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Bruce is building for the future
Published : 07 Aug 2009 11:13:47Rss feed
GIVEN that he once had a plumbing apprenticeship lined up at Swan Hunters Shipyard, Steve Bruce is an inspired choice of Sunderland manager. For the last two decades, footballing success on Wearside has barely amounted to a trickle. Once Bruce works his managerial magic, however, the hope is that it turns into a freeflowing flood. This is the challenge Ive been waiting for, said the Corbridge-born Black Cats boss, who has set aside his childhood loyalty to Newcastle United in order to secure a return to the North- East. Its why you go into management, to get a challenge like this. I have waited ten or 11 years and its been tough at times, but I think the time is right to take on a challenge like this. Niall (Quinn) and Ellis (Short) have both told me they dont want to be in the position they were in at the end of last season. They want the club to progress and not be in and around the relegation fodder. In the three years Im contracted, Im hopeful we can try to be pushing the top ten. A good cup run would also be good, and Ill be trying to do that. Bruce spent most of last season in the top ten with Wigan, but the 48-year-old left the DW Stadium this summer feeling he had taken the Latics as far as he could. In his 18 months in the North-West, the former Manchester United centrehalf transformed one of the Premier Leagues most unglamorous clubs into a competitive outfit capable of mixing it with the best. But whenever it seemed as though he was knocking on the door of a higher level, the rug would be pulled from under his feet. Wilson Palacios went to Tottenham, Antonio Valencia was being lined up for a move to Manchester United, and Bruce was left frustrated at his inability to hold on to his biggest stars. I could establish Wigan as a top-ten side, but that was possibly as much as I could do, he said. I was banging my head against the ceiling there it was as high as I could take it. At Sunderland, we will keep our best players. We certainly wont be selling them to the likes of Tottenham, Everton and Aston Villa. They are teams we want to be challenging in the Premier League eventually. That is the progress we want to make over the next few years and I dont see any reason why that cant happen. If I can get a really good team here, we can progress. If we finish in the top ten we know we can kick on again and look to finish in the top six in the future. However, with the same pragmatism he displayed as a player, Bruce is refusing to get too far ahead of himself too quickly. He has been given more than £20m with which to improve his squad, and has smashed Sunderlands transfer record to sign Darren Bent, but with the Black Cats having scraped to safety on the final day of last season, simply avoiding the relegation battle is this seasons over-riding aim. Progress in terms of this season is mid-table, absolutely, said Bruce. We dont want to be in a situation where we are constantly looking over our shoulders. Its very difficult to build anything when youre constantly bouncing back and forth between the Premier League and the Championship. Its going to be difficult, but wed like to be looking at the top half of the table rather than the bottom. I think thats a realistic objective.
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