After overseeing another defeat to their local rivals at the weekend, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has been the focus of some fairly angry rants from fans on forums and websites across the Internet. After the sizeable investment seen over the summer, another day of derby agony was not meant to be on the cards. It is now fair to say that there are serious calls from some sections of the fans for Bruce to go.
It is important to point out at this point out that Bruce will not be sacked. Chairman Niall Quinn and owner Ellis Short have shown far too much faith in him and handed so much money to him over the summer that they will not be rushing to get rid of him any time soon. But that does not mean that the pressure is not growing.
A key feature of the reign of Quinn at the Stadium of Light has been a deliberate attempt to re-engage with the fans who felt as if they had been betrayed and let down by the previous regime. If those same fans get restless then there could be repercussions for Bruce. However, the danger inherent in listening to fans is a simple and obvious one. Quite often fans are wrong.
Some of the criticism that I have seen of Bruce has been nothing short of ridiculous. Some are calling for him to be sacked, whilst some are accusing him of not caring about the club because he is Newcastle born. The truth of the matter is that the first weekend saw the club pick up a great point at Anfield and this could well have been followed up by a convincing win or Saturday if things had fallen their way in the final third. Sunderland looked by far the better footballing side especially in the first half. If one or two of the chances created had been converted then chances are Steve Bruce would be being lauded as a great manager and that the Sunderland fans would be getting carried away and talking of Europe already. As it is the message boards are buzzing with talk of who the club should look at as a replacement instead of looking at things with a bit of common sense.
Looking at the club in a balanced way, there are certainly more positives than negatives. The club has reinvested the money from the Darren Bent and Jordan Henderson sales wisely and is reported to still be looking at bolstering the left side of the team. The team has finished higher up the table for each of the last three seasons and there is no reason why another top ten finish can not be achieved.
Once again a club is faced with the difficult task of listening to what the fans want and doing what is best for the club. Very often these two are not the same thing.
What do you think of Sunderland’s prospects this season? Do you think that fans know what is right for their club?