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Bruce happy to ease Gyan in gently
Published : 22 Oct 2010 13:32:00
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will resist the temptation to pitch his £23million strikeforce into Premier League battle - for now. The Black Cats invested in excess of £13million during the summer to add the firepower provided by Ghana international Asamoah Gyan to the proven class of Darren Bent, who scored 25 goals last season. Bent and Gyan are yet to start a league game in harness and with the pair having contributed nine of the club's 10 goals to date this season - the other was a Stephen Carr own goal - there is a growing clamour for Bruce to unleash the full power of his armoury. However, the manager is happy with the way his side has been playing in recent weeks with the England international at the pinnacle of a 4-5-1 formation, and is unlikely to tinker with that as he heads into tomorrow's home clash with Aston Villa. Asked if he is tempted to change system and play both men from the start, he said: "There will be a time when we do it, of course. But the team is playing very, very well and the team comes above anything. "It is quite rare now in the Premier League, for instance, to see any team playing with two. "We are playing with two out-and-out strikers because Danny Welbeck is a striker, but he is playing towards the left. "It is very difficult. I have always played 4-4-2, I have always been one who has enjoyed playing 4-4-2. "But I do believe that you do need decent possession of the ball in the big games now, and who of the big teams does that anymore? "Even Manchester United, when they play the big games, play 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, if you like; Chelsea do; Tottenham did on Wednesday night until they had somebody sent off. "It's becoming a trait, isn't it?" Gyan has started just one game for the club - the 2-1 Carling Cup third-round defeat by West Ham - but has two goals to his name, and Bruce is making no apologies for easing his big-money signing into the English game. He said: "I had no hesitation in paying the money for him. What it has enabled me to do, though, is let him have a little insight into England. "To be fair, his first game, he thought, 'Dear, oh dear'. It's the intensity - for instance, at Blackburn the other night. "It's the intensity and the way teams play. Nobody plays like that in France. "He hasn't seen it before. He has probably seen it on TV, but when you are up there and see it... "It has enabled me to let him come to the club and quietly let him settle in. Believe me, he will have a big impact when we unleash him." Sunderland head into the Villa game sitting in 13th place in the table, but just two points worse off than their opponents in eighth. They have lost only once in the league all season - at West Brom on August 21 - and after a run of fixtures which has seen them play Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United already, Bruce is reasonably satisfied with their return. He said: "I knew when I looked at the first 12, 13 games of the season, we were playing the top 10 of last year, apart from Everton, so we knew it was going to be a difficult start, a really difficult start. "If we can come out of the first 12 games - and I include Villa, Newcastle, Chelsea and Tottenham, who are all coming up - and be in the pack or close to the pack after those sort of games, then we are obviously going to be pleased."