Sunderland Club Focus – Vultures circling around under pressure Bruce

With Monday’s loss to Premier League new boys Norwich City still fresh in the memory, bookmakers have been quick to jump on Sunderland’s more than shaky start to the campaign. Black Cats boss Steve Bruce was quick to defend his players indicating in his post-match press conference that a large percentage of the blame should lie at his door for picking the players – but could this admission of responsibility ultimately cost him his job?

Unfortunately for Mackems fans, this last result is defying the planets greenhouse effect as it appears to be the tip of an iceberg that is growing. Since selling Darren Bent to Aston Villa back in January the Wearside club has lurched from one bad result to another – turning a promising season in which a push for Europe was a possibility into a potential relegation dogfight. A look at their last 18 Premier League games shows a return of just 3 wins (losing 12 of the remaining 15 games).

With the addition of Bruce’s numerous summer signings more was expected of Sunderland this term, however the players have yet to gel and after last night the former Manchester United defender finds his odds of having the unfortunate pleasure of winning the 2011/12 sack race becoming increasingly short. On the back of the defeat at Carrow Road he now finds himself a close second favourite to Blackburn’s Steve Kean, hovering around the Evens price range.

If the game were to be played on paper the Sunderland boss would likely find himself sitting a shade more comfortably having signed several established Premier League players that had the potential to do well in the North East – unfortunately though, it’s played on grass. Every week that passes the excuse that these new signings need time to gel together becomes weaker, and eventually the fans will rightly ask why are they still yet to settle, and is it as a result of poor tactics, or even a loss of the dressing room.

A big problem that was again highlighted against the Canaries was the lack of attacking firepower the Wearsiders exhibit. With the loss of Gyan and Bent the options look limited, and whilst young starlet Conor Wickham may have a bright future in the game it is perhaps unfair to expect him to be the only real option other than Nicolas Bendtner. By limiting his striking options Bruce not only makes it harder to halt the slide, but runs the risk of mal-nurturing a potential England international.

Whilst some of the media criticism of Bruce may be slightly over the top at this early juncture in the season, and the club clearly possess several players capable of playing to a much better standard than they have shown to this point, there comes a point when both fans and board will decide enough is enough. Sometimes things just don’t work out as they should, Steve Bruce and Sunderland could simply be one of these things and a fresh face and clean slate could be just what the players need to kick start a revival.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Sunderland v West Brom

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