The 2-1 home defeat Sunderland suffered to Wigan Athletic on Saturday was a bitter pill to swallow for lowly Black Cats manager Steve Bruce, who is already under pressure from supporters following their dreadful start to the Premier League season.
Although Sunderland are not currently in the bottom 3, they sit uncomfortably above it for a season that supporters were hoping for a relatively decent season considering the vast amounts of signings they made in the Summer transfer window. The fact local rivals Newcastle United are doing so well, also adds salt to the wound.
However, does Steve Bruce deserve to be sacked? The supporters voiced their opinions come the final whistle chanting for his dismissal but the former Manchester United defender says that he won’t quit despite abuse from his own supporters. Does the Sunderland board need to act for him and give him the boot?
There last win in the league came 5 games ago with a 2-0 win at Bolton, another team who are having a pretty dreadful season. The last home win for Sunderland was all the way back in September with a surprising 4-0 victory over Stoke City, but again another side who’ve also underperformed so far.
Is Bruce a bad manager? This time last season, Sunderland were actually within the top 6 of the Premier League and many were predicting that they could try and claim a European place come the end of the season.
Then cue star striker Darren Bent saying he wants to leave the club coming out of the blue and by January he was gone to Aston Villa. He was a large part of their success however last season’s summer signing Asamoah Gyan, who impressed at the World Cup with Ghana was going to step in.
Until this summer, he also wants away from the club and decided to go on loan to somewhere in the Middle East (I don’t even know where). God knows why, probably for money but it is alarming that Gyan, like Bent also wanted away from Sunderland so desperately. What’s going on?
Let’s remember that Sunderland also had Darren Wellbeck up front for them last season, the player who’s broke his way into the Manchester United team this season as well as England recognition.
Who have replaced these 3 key players? Nikolas Bendtner, a talented player but tends to reek of inconsistency. Connor Wickham, still only 18 years old and again talented but not a natural goal scorer at Premier League level immediately. With Fraizer Campbell injured until 2012 and young Korean striker Ji Dong-Won still adapting to the Premier League, is it not surprise Sunderland are not scoring goals and winning games?
Another key point is that Jordan Henderson, sold to Liverpool in the summer was a key part of their creativity in the midfield last season. A role that could quite easily be filled by the likes of new arrival David Vaughan should be fulfilling. He was an unsung hero for Blackpool last year compared to the praise of fellow team mate Charlie Adam.
It won’t help Bruce that Wes Brown was at fault for conceding the last minute goal on Saturday. The defender signed from Manchester United in the summer looked to be a great addition to the defence along with John O’Shea but it appears that all these new signings have failed to gel.
So what manager does Sunderland go for if they DO give Steve Bruce the Sack?
Mark Hughes has been heavily touted by the bookies and fans as an ideal replacement but there only has to be one choice and that is Martin O’Neill.
It is a known fact that Martin O’Neill was a Sunderland supporter as a child and is still said to be very fond of them still. Plus one thing that O’Neill excels in football management is his attention to detail, especially his motivating and man management skills.
It was only a few seasons ago that he’d built an Aston Villa side worthy of challenging in the top 6 of the Premier League and I believe it would be a great move for him to join Sunderland and give this team a new lease of life.
Unfortunately for Steve Bruce, he appears to have lost the confidence of the fans and if results continue it will only be amount of time before his players do too.
It was around this time last year that West Ham United were said to have approached Martin O’Neill to replace Avram Grant but it never materialised. The Hammers stuck with Grant and they faced relegation from the Premier League.
If Sunderland stick with Bruce, could we see history repeat itself?