Bruce out to end United hoodoo
Steve Bruce will be desperate to break his duck against the man he still calls "boss" when Sunderland host Manchester United on Saturday. Bruce will go head to head with Sir Alex Ferguson still looking for his first win over Manchester United, the club he served with such distinction as a player. Bruce was a member of the class of 1993 which finally ended a 26-year wait for a league title, establishing a dynasty which has added another 10 Premier League successes since. He left Old Trafford for Birmingham in the summer of 1996 with three league winners' medals, two FA Cups, two League Cups and a European Cup Winners' Cup among his list of honours, and two years later, launched his managerial career at Sheffield United. However, despite some near-misses - Sunderland led 2-1 at Old Trafford last season before Anton Ferdinand's unfortunate own goal handed United a face-saving point - he is yet to get the better of a man for whom he, not surprisingly, has the highest regard. Bruce said: "Oh aye, he's 'the boss', absolutely. "There will never be another one. Since I have left, it doesn't matter where you go, everybody asks the same thing: 'What was he like? What was it like?'. "He is a quite unbelievable manager and it is a quite unbelievable club, and I was privileged to be there, that's the only thing I can say. "I was privileged to be there for the best part of 10 years. "I have been trying for years to get a result over them and haven't quite managed it. "I have managed a few draws, but that's about it. But they are without question for me still the team that has everybody talking about them. "When Manchester United come to town, there is something about them and you would love to get a result against them - but it's not easy. "There are a few managers, not just myself, who have tried hard and have been unable to get a result against them." United will arrive on Wearside unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions to date this season, but yet to hit top form on a sustained basis with star man Wayne Rooney struggling with injury and the effects of his off-field problems. Ferguson is in the process of building yet another team with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes fast approaching the end of their distinguished careers, and Bruce admits that replacing the youngsters he saw emerge through the ranks will be a near-impossible task. He said: "I suppose that's the ultimate test - how do you replace Giggs and Scholes? "The word 'great' is used too often, but certainly they will go down as not just the great players for Manchester United, but the great players of certainly my generation and certainly of the Premier League era. "Have there been any better than Giggs and Scholes? You would have to say it would be impossible to see anybody above them." Sunderland have not beaten United in 13 attempts dating back to a League cup tie in November 2000, and last defeated them in a league game in March 1997. However, victory over Manchester City and draws with Arsenal and Liverpool already during the current campaign have increased confidence on Wearside, although Bruce is yet to accept that his side has finally reached that elusive next level. He said: "No, no. It's always my fear here because the tradition with this club is there is always something around the corner. "We had a great start last year, if you remember, then had a horrible three or four months, so no, I don't think we have. "We have made small strides. I can see good signs, but I am never going to take it for granted now."
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