Bruce has been tipped to lead the Wearside club towards the upper echelons of the Premier League following two seasons of nerve-jangling skirmishes with relegation by the former Sunderland and Manchester City player Dennis Tueart.
"The future is looking rosy at Sunderland and Steve certainly has the ability to take Sunderland to the next level but you have to be practical and go one step at a time," Tueart told Telegraph Sport.
"Look at Fulham, Bolton, Wigan. Fulham have qualified for the Europa League, Wigan and Bolton have finished just below it and then you've got Stoke who finish just below that. You can't tell me that Sunderland don't have more potential than Fulham, Bolton, Wigan and Stoke."
Like Bruce, Tueart was raised in Newcastle before heading to Sunderland where he played 178 times and helped the club win the 1973 FA Cup final under fellow Geordie Bob Stokoe before moving to Manchester City.
While his hometown club have been left struggling in the Championship, Tueart is optimistic about Sunderland's prospects because of Irish-American billionaire Ellis Short's move to take overall control with chairman Niall Quinn still in charge of day-to-day affairs.
Shirt's investment has allowed Sunderland to smash their transfer record with the £10-million signing of Darren Bent from Tottenham as well as Manchester United striker Fraizer Campbell and has seen the club pursue £7-million rated Wigan midfielder lee Cattermole.
"I'm sure that when Ellis Short looked at the possibility of taking the club over he didn't look at where the club was now he looked at where it can be," Tueart added.
"They can be exactly where they want to be. It's as simple as that. They have had some false dawns over the last 20 years but 1973 proved that they can be one of the best clubs in the country.
"If you look at the potential supporters base as a manager or an owner coming in to take over a project you look where the potential revenue and support is and you can bet your bottom dollar that they have will have 48,000 at the Stadium of Light if they are doing well.
They were already in the top six in terms of average support last season and they've finished fifth-bottom. They haven't given the supporters much to shout about and yet they have still sustained a huge supporter base.
"They seem to be running a highly professional and dignified organisation at Sunderland, Tueart is also confident that Bruce will win over Sunderland fans despite his Geordie roots.
"People in the North-East do have this loyalty to their own kind," Tueart added. "That's' why Newcastle fans responded so well to Alan Shearer and previously Bobby Robson.
"I'm from Newcastle so I know both sides of the coin - Tyneside and Wearside. They are very similar and they have this ingrained loyalty to their own kind.
"Bob Stokoe was also from Tyneside and he transformed the club. If Steve can emulate what Bob did then I'm sure he will become a real hero in the area." ends