SUNDERLAND: Sunderland sacked manager Steve Bruce on Wednesday after chairman Ellis Short said results were “simply not good enough”.
The north-east club's 2-1 home defeat by fellow strugglers Wigan on Saturday left Sunderland 16th in the English Premier League and just two points above the relegation zone.
Former Manchester United defender Bruce joined the Black Cats from Wigan before the 2009/10 season and struggled to win the affection of some Sunderland fans who resented his boyhood support of local rivals Newcastle United.
But, despite some of the taunts aimed at Bruce at the weekend by angry fans at the Stadium of Light, Dallas-based businessman Short said his was not a knee-jerk decision.
“This has been a difficult time for everyone at Sunderland and is not a situation that any of us envisaged or expected to be in,” said Short in a statement released on Sunderland's official website.
“It is my job as chairman to act in the best interests of our football club at all times and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision I have taken lightly.
“Sadly, results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change.
“Steve has acted with honesty and integrity throughout, which is testament to the character and commitment he has shown during his time at Sunderland.
“I would like to personally place on record my thanks to him for his significant contribution to our football club over the past two-and-a-half years and everyone here at Sunderland naturally wishes him the very best for the future.
“I would also like to thank our fans, who have endured a trying start to the season. Their support continues to be the driving force behind our club and is vital as we now look to the future.”
Even those fans not intrinsically hostile to Bruce were left questioning some of his dealings in the transfer market.
For example, he signed Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan for a club record #13 million in August 2010 only to fail to get the best out of a forward who scored just 11 goals in 37 appearances in his 13 months in the Premier League.
In September, Sunderland loaned Gyan to wealthy United Arab Emirates side Al-Ain. Then chairman Niall Quinn, now Sunderland's head of international development – Short was still the club's owner – explained the move by saying: “This puts Steve and his recruitment options in a far stronger position for the January window.”
Now though Bruce won't have the chance to spend those funds.
Assistant manager Eric Black is set to fill the vacancy for Sunderland's visit to Wolves on Sunday.
Former Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill, and fellow ex Premier League bosses Mark Hughes and Rafael Benitez are among those being touted as permanent replacements for Bruce.