Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bruce Is Ready for Crunch Period

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bruce Is Ready for Crunch Period

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Brown

STEVE Bruce insists Sunderland's season is only now about to begin, believing its central third will define their Premier League campaign.

And seeking both patience and potency in front of goal, the Black Cats boss says his side can cope with near-incomparable expectation created by a "unique" fanbase to hand those supporters "something to shout about".

Sunderland were held to a goalless stalemate against Fulham at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, despite twice hitting the crossbar and seeing Stephane Sessegnon's late goalbound effort saved by Mark Schwarzer.

Given that the fixture was earmarked by Bruce himself as one of four - along with the forthcoming visits of Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers, separated by a trip to Wolves - from which his side should claim points, failure to win has cranked up the pressure on those remaining matches.

But Bruce is looking further ahead still, to Christmas and beyond as a spell during which Sunderland must embark on a positive chain of results if something is to be salvaged from their disappointing start to the campaign. "I think the season's just about to start," Bruce said.

"We've had so many disruptions with internationals. I know we've played 12 games but we've got something like 10 or 12 games in the next six or seven weeks, which will define our season.

"We hope that we can still improve.

I still think there have been improvements. Certainly defensively we're far, far better than we've ever been.

"We've just got to find that little bit up front that makes the difference." He added: "Fulham have got some good players. They've got a fantastic goalkeeper and really good centre-backs.

"They've got an England centre forward. They've got good players everywhere. So do Wigan.

"So we need a bit of patience. But we need to have a result. …

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