A 3-2 home defeat by West Bromwich has now made it just one point from the last 24 and if no more come then Sunderland could plummet from the Barclays Premier League and Bruce would depart with them.
Who's smiling now? West Brom eased their relegation fears while Sunderland have much to worry about
Despite some cat-calls on Saturday a fine start to the season has acted as a shield for him so far, but while Bruce has bemoaned injuries, the fans know all clubs have them.
He has had five really big home games to gee his players up for West Ham in the League Cup, Notts County in the FA Cup, Newcastle, Liverpool in front of a full stadium and West Brom. Sunderland have lost four of them and sneaked an undeserved late equaliser against Newcastle.
Boing boing: Paul Scharner got the winner at the Stadium of Light
It is not good enough and it would be nosurprise were owner Ellis Short to question the new contract he awardedBruce in February. Short has spent serious money on players and wages.
In contrast Hodgson, who came to the Hawthorns just before that Bruce contract, has been in charge for six games and West Brom are unbeaten. They look like a team, while Sunderland look like an assortment. Bruce correctly called Lee Cattermole's yellow card 'stupid'.
The loss of, and gaining of, confidence is decisive of course. Sunderland went one up through a Nicky Shorey own goal, then 2-1 up from Phil Bardsley's belter after Peter Odemwingie had punished some non-defending.
But Youssouf Mulumbu toe-poked in a clever second equaliser on 54 minutes and there was only going to be one winner after that. Paul Scharner, who personified West Brom's disciplined fight, scored it on the turn.
Odemwingie said: 'Roy Hodgson is doing a fantastic job. We have a fantastic midfield but the organisation the manager has added to it has made all the difference. Our training is very organised now he once told us how many minutes there were left in training and not to waste a single second of it.'
On a day of many contrasts, Bardsley offered another: 'The scenes in the dressing room say it all everyone is shattered.'
'Save Our Season' was Friday's headline in the Sunderland Echo. What will this Friday's be?
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Explore more:People: Paul Scharner, Roy Hodgson, Steve Bruce, Lee Cattermole Places: Newcastle, Liverpool