After just five minutes against West Brom on Saturday, Bruce looked to be facing the Stadium of Light exit door.
Two down after James Morrison and Shane Long were allowed to score easy goals for visitors West Brom, Sunderland fans turned on their manager with chants of 'Bruce Out' and 'You're getting sacked in the morning.'
At a loss: Steve Bruce laments his side as they trailed against West Brom
A spirited fightback, led by on-loan Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner who scored his first Sunderland goal and created Ahmed Elmohamady's, relieved the pressure on Bruce and his players.
By the final whistle, after Wes Brown and Elmohamady had squandered chances to confirm Sunderland's second half domination and complete an unlikely comeback, home fans didn't know whether to boo or cheer their team off. The result was an unhappy combination of the two.
Bruce has been under pressure since losing his second Tyne-Wear derby two games into this season but admits he is still perplexed that he appears to be fighting a losing battle with some Sunderland fans.
He said: 'I was genuinely looking at a few faces to see if they could respond and they did. the vast majority of them.
'There's a huge expectation here, bigger than it ever should be really in my opinion, but that's what it is. The new players have certainly learned that. They know what it's going to be like now.
On fire: Shane Long doubles West Brom's advantage against Sunderland
'I know we have the nucleus of a good squad, given little bit of luck and a bit of time we will be fine. We will still be pushing to finishing in or around that 10th position where we want to be. I'm still hoping we can do that. Looking at the players we've got and certainly there were signs today that pleased me.'The intensity even shocks the ex-Man United lads. They are saying "what's the problem? Ok we've had a bad start but why is it like it is at the moment, the frenzy?"'We had a bad run last year but we finished tenth, so we must have had some parts of the season ok. But there's this frenzy which engulfs the North East.
'Even those players who have played in front of 70,000 crowds 400 times can see how difficult it can be. There's the expectation here of a huge, huge, big club.
Back in it: Bruce congratulates Ahmed Elmohamady on scoring Sunderland's first
'It resembles a club which has won the Champions League or the Premier League or the FA Cup, like Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, or Liverpool.
'We've got a similar expectation here. It comes from is just one thing: the area and the size of the crowds we get repeatedly. It's terrific for the North East. It is why I wanted to come back to work here.'
Bendtner scored his first goal to complete a fine move featuring livewire strike partner Stephane Sessegnon and new signing Seb Larsson's neat back heel into his path.
Although Bendtner needed a deflection from Gareth McAuley's outstretched leg to beat Ben Foster, the Dane was delighted to break his duck and is also convinced Sunderland will start to head up the Premier League table shortly.
The Arsenal striker said: 'What was going through my mind in the first five minutes? You really don't want to know.
Level pegging: Nicklas Bendtner celebrates scoring Sunderland's equaliser
'In football I have never been involved in such a start. We showed courage, a lot of fight and a lot ofheart. We then got back quickly to 2-2 and we were unlucky not to win because we had a lot of possession in front of their goal to get in to scoring positions. We also had ten corners.
'It is a bit unfortunate but we showed we offered a challenge. That can't be taken away from us.
'It was a huge moment at two goals down for us but we recovered greatly and we have to look at that rather than saying we started slowly even though it was shocking. We have to forget about the negatives. The courage and heart we showed was the key.
Main man: Bendtner (second right) scores a vital equaliser for Sunderland
'We were shell-shocked. We had to overcome it. Every team is different but at Sunderland everyone looks ateach other and has to trust we all give 100 per cent every time we cross the white line for each other, for the manager, all the staff. As long as you have that you have a chance to get back in any game.
'In training we try to evaluate everything and quickly because the next game is not far away. The atmosphere since I arrived has always been happy. When you head in there is always good banter and that is needed at a club.
'Everyone in training gives everything and that is what you need. You need to go in to training and be happy because that is what makes you play. Even here, if you find yourself out, people are there to pick you up and help you out and try to get a relationship going. That should be in every team.'
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