Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bruce to Turn the Tables

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bruce to Turn the Tables

Article excerpt

Byline: STUART RAYNER

STEVE Bruce admits he used the Stadium of Light crowd to his advantage as Wigan Athletic manager. Today he hopes to use it to turn the tables on his old club, writes STUART RAYNER.

The former Manchester United defender made a huge leap in swapping the Latics for Sunderland two years ago. While Wigan's average attendance is just 16,490 this season, the Black Cats attract more than twice that (39,981 per match).

Bruce knows from personal experience the greater size and passion of the Wearsiders' support can backfire on them. But today he hopes to turn them into the advantage they ought to be in a crucial bottom-of-the-table Premier League clash. "We need the supporters to really play their big card and that is support," commented Bruce.

"They are fantastically loyal and amazing in terms of the numbers we get. However, that creates its difficulties as well.

"There are times against Wigan when it might not go our way. I used to come up with a Wigan team and say, 'You know what, we go 20 minutes to 30 minutes without them scoring and because of the expectation Sunderland have, the crowd will get edgy and that will transcend onto the pitch'. I've used that as my team-talk when I've come here before. "My thoughts towards the supporters are come and get behind the team. We desperately need their head as well. We're struggling at the moment, we desperately need to produce a performance which will enlighten the fans and try and take the monkey off our backs." Sunderland have not won at the Stadium of Light since New Year's Day, or anywhere since January 22. For the last two weekends, the Black Cats have dropped below relegationthreatened opponents after losing to them. Wigan at least cannot make it an unwanted hat-trick, but Roberto Martinez's men would close to within a point by recording their first consecutive league victories since Bruce was at the helm. …

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