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Good Game, But No Brucey Bonus

Friday 2nd December 2011
This week has seen the departure of Steve Bruce from the Stadium of Light after a string of bad results left the Black Cats flirting with the drop zone.

After taking over from Caretaker boss Ricky Sbragia in 2009, Bruce has lead Sunderland to mid-table security, but results towards the back end of last season combined with this season's increasingly poor form, has resulted in Bruce being sacked from the Stadium of Light. The news will have come as no suprise to many Sunderland fans, who may have been expecting it on Sunday had it not been for the tragic news regarding Gary Speed.
During his two and a half year reign Bruce has seen a mass overhaul of the Sunderland squad on two seperate occasions, spending almost £75 million in the process. As one of the most active managers in the transfer market, he funded his shopping addiction with the sales of Darren Bent, Jordan Henderson and Kenwyne Jones.

The revolving door at the Stadium of Light was not helped by Bruce's continued reliance on the loan market, borrowing the likes of Danny Welbeck, John Mensah and Sully Muntari.

Despite the constant upheaval Bruce managed to establish Sunderland as a Premier League side, finishing 13th in his first season. He followed this up with a tenth place finish, but a weak second half of the season saw him go into the summer break under increasing pressure.
Even with the speculation around his future, Bruce was once again backed in the transfer market by his board, bringing in a host of new players which included the likes of Connor Wickham, Seb Larsson, Craig Gardner and Man Utd duo Wes Brown and John O'Shea.

Despite all the lavish spending during his reign, Bruce will best be remembered for what left the Stadium of Light, with star strikers Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan both leaving under a cloud and fan favourite Kenwyne Jones seemingly fell out of favour before his move to Premier League rivals Stoke City.

Bruce has never been able to replace the goals from Bent, and the untimely departure of Gyan meant that Sunderland were left with very little firepower, with only on loan Arsenal hitman Nicklas Bendtner with any Premier League experience. A leaky defence coupled with this lack of firepower has seen results go against the Black Cats, and the slide down the table means that the new manager is going to have to build a lot of confidence in what is, on paper at least, a very strong squad.
Shaun Wathey

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