I was a huge Steve Bruce fan and I was still defending him when the writing was on the wall and the sack was knocking on the door, but after seeing what Martin O’Neill has done with Steve Bruce’s squad in just close to seven weeks, I question now if he could.
As a Sunderland fan for 21 years and counting I’ve learnt to be calm and be realistic when it comes to the Black Cats because however good it has got with the team there has always been a big fall. But when Sunderland were saved by Niall Quinn back in 2006 and turned the clubs fortunes around for the better things were on the up. It wasn’t easy and they were some difficult times but when Steve Bruce was appointed as the new Sunderland manager in 2009 I couldn’t help think that we would become grounded and we would move up a step and start to build something for many years to come but I was wrong on that.
Better players came in, big wins against the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal and finishing 13th in the first season under Bruce to then kick on and continue to do the same and finish 10th in the second season which was the highest we had finished since the Peter Reid era. Another big summer before the start of this season happened at Sunderland and Steve was building a good squad, better players like Seb Larsson and David Vaughan came in and we were looking at the future and buying big in Connor Wickham and all us Sunderland fans were wide eyed and after we came back from Liverpool with a great point on the opening day of the season the hope in us all came out and we were all thinking this could be something good this year and a great season really did look ahead but sadly the result covered up now problems the squad had at the time.
A defeat in the next game against Newcastle and the hope of a good season went in some very quickly, then out of the Carling cup to Brighton in the next game and after only three games of the season it was clear a lack of a striker and order in the team was needed but sadly it never came quick enough, The wins against Stoke and Bolton were fantastic performances and with a bit more luck the loss against Manchester United at Old Trafford could of been very different but the luck was against Bruce and many more fans were shouting out and calling for him to go.
Four winnable games against Fulham, Wigan, Wolves and Blackburn were next up for Sunderland and it was clear Bruce had to get at least ten points from those games to save his job but with the pressures that are football and the amount of eyes and ears around and the amount of people’s views thinking they could do a better job than him the pressure on him and his squad must of been massive and I know because I could feel that they was an unease at the Stadium of Light for the Fulham game which ended in a bore draw and the calls for him to go got louder and stronger and it was down to beating Wigan at home to save his job, it started off ok but as Wigan got to 1-1 the writing was on the wall and as Wigan scored in the last few minutes to make it 1-2 the look on Steve Bruce’s face said it all, a guy that was getting to most awful abuse from thousands inside the Stadium of Light and it was the look of a man that couldn’t get a break or just a small amount of luck.
All managers will say that they are convinced they could have revived the club they were sacked from because they’re managers and working hard for a club is what they do but when calls come from thousands of fans in every game that is felt by the players and they play badly because of it but the calls are heard more by the board and when the fans turn against a manager they’ve it and that is the sad state of football, because time is something a manager can’t go out and buy.
Saying in an article on the Daily Mail sports website Steve Bruce said ‘with changes you need time, and unfortunately it didn’t go our way and the crowd got impatient and we know the way football is, that is the disappointing thing.’ But as I say at the begin of this blog would he have turned it around I just don’t think he would of sadly because I think Steve is a great manager and a great guy and it just didn’t work out at Sunderland. I look at what Martin O’Neill has done with the same set of players and in a small amount of time he has got more wins and points than Steve had in the season and Sunderland have climbed the table and now look like to be a position to kick on, which should of happened after the Liverpool draw on the opening day of the season.
Football is an odd game, we all think we know better than the next person but we don’t we’re just fans, it’s the people that run, manage, work for or play for the club that know everything that is going on a football club but a lot of power is held by fans and for how much a manager or board are convinced they can turn things around with more time, time is something football doesn’t give anymore and many more managers will continue to fall the same way.
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