Why Steve Bruce deserved some credit for his time as Sunderland manager after leaving Wigan Athletic

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce appears dejected.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce appears dejected.

THE EXTREMISTS reared on a diet of instant footballing success cheered deliriously at the news of Steve Bruce’s sacking, writes Chris Young.

In truth, even the more moderate Sunderland supporters welcomed the announcement as the right time for Bruce’s two-and-a-half year tenure to come to an end.

But amidst the salivating at the names being linked with the managerial vacancy and the prospect of the successful candidate performing various circus acts on Wearside, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Sunderland made undoubted progress under Bruce.

Admittedly, Sunderland currently lie a meagre two points above the drop zone and have just tasted defeat against a side barely good enough for the Championship.

But the campaign remains in its infancy, a cluster of clubs remain inseparably linked by only a fistful of points and few managers get their P45s on the back of a winning streak.

Think back too to the state Sunderland were in when Bruce ditched the comfy Ikea sofa at Wigan for the potential Chippendale armchair at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats had survived the notoriously tricky second season in the top flight by a meagre two points after a nervy yet ultimately euphoric final day which saw Newcastle drop through the trapdoor.

But Sunderland were essentially a project on hold following Roy Keane’s resignation and the momentum from promotion had stalled.

Bruce’s remit was to take the club from perennial relegation candidates to an established mid-table outfit and in that degree he has succeeded.

Whether Bruce could have taken Sunderland any higher is debatable, but under his watch, the Black Cats finished a steady 13th and then secured a first top 10 finish in a decade and only the third in 50 years.

That is no mean achievement, particularly given the personnel Bruce inherited.

Read more of Chris’s thoughts in today’s Sportmail.