Back to normal business – ie worrying about our own problems – we question the wisdom of clamouring for Steve Bruce’s dismissal but caution Sunderland AFC against taking future support for granted …
The man behind me, in row 31 of the East Stand, was calling for Steve Bruce’s head before the first half was over against Fulham.
In the second half, I heard – well, couldn’t fail to hear – him shout: “You’ve half an hour to save your job, Bruce.”
He didn’t see the half hour out. Ten minutes from the end of normal time, he was on his way.
In all honesty, you can’t blame him. He has spent money on his season or matchday ticket, made the effort to get to the game and been rewarded by yet another dollop of dross.
I remain in the “what’s the point?” camp when it comes to Bruce and his job. What precisely can be gained by sacking him and expecting someone else to make the same players do something from now to the end of the season that they haven’t done since that spell in November when we beat Arsenal at home and should have beaten Spurs away – play well for whole games?
Some side with my early-to-go fellow East Stand sufferer. At the Blackcats list, a man who initially gave Bruce staunch support dismissed my view, as echoed by someone else, that now was not the right time for a dramatic gesture: “People keep saying this, but if this isn’t the time to change things (ie when we are deep in the sh*** and look intent on getting relegated), then when is it?”
The question may be academic in any case, if The Daily Telegraph was right in reporting a “source” as suggesting the manager’s job was safe. “As long as Niall Quinn remains chairman, Steve Bruce’s job is very, very secure,” the source said.
“The deal with Ellis Short when Niall brought Steve to Sunderland last summer was that if they keep chopping and changing managers every five minutes they could end up where the likes of Leeds are now.
“Even if, God forbid, the club was relegated there is a plan in place for Steve to get the club back up to the Premier League like he did at Birmingham. There will be a budget for the Premier League and a contingency plan for the Championship.
“Niall will want to see this through and is determined to get this right but there is no way he will be knocked off course by one bad run of results.”
I am sure nothing should be read into the conditional “as long as Niall remains chairman”. But I am also sure that nothing should be read into the present level of attendances. They will slump if supporters are not quickly given real encouragement, and they will slump even more next season as people decide there are other ways of getting through the weekend.