STEVE Bruce is still seething about the long ball tactics Sunderland adopted during the drab goalless draw with Fulham.
Bruce has stressed to his players he does not want to see his side playing that way again as he warned them against fighting fire with fire against Bolton tonight.
Wanderers have been one of the most direct sides in the Premier League in recent years and, while new manager Owen Coyle generally prefers a shorter passing game, he is having to work with what he inherited from Gary Megson. Bruce, though, has no desire to watch his team trying to lump their way out of trouble as he urged them to have the bravery to be patient in their attacking play at the Stadium of Light.
He said: “We have enough fire power in the side, we’re one of the top scorers in the Premier League. I think, until a couple of games ago, we’d scored as many goals as Aston Villa and they are in the top six.
“We are looking for a bit of creativity in midfield, but we have to have the confidence to pass the ball. We were far too direct last week against Fulham. We were crying out for a bit of creativity. It is easy out on the training ground. When I see them out there, and what we have got, it is not a problem. I don't want any of my teams to play like we did at Fulham.
“We went from back to front too quickly. There would be anarchy if I told them to play like that and I have never asked one of my teams to play like that.
“I want to get the ball down and play. That is my style. I am convinced we will get our confidence back and start to pass it.
“Why they did it against Fulham, God knows. I suspect because it’s the easier way out, but you have to be brave and have the patience to pass the ball around a bit.”
Confidence, though, is not in abundance inside the Sunderland camp and Bruce knows they need something to lift flagging spirits. A first win in more than three months would be the perfect tonic, although Bolton have won their last two games and beat another struggling side, West Ham, away from home last weekend.
Bruce added: “We have to find confidence from somewhere and if we do that, I am convinced we can have a good run in. We have got another 11 games left. If we can pick up back-to-back wins at home, if we can do that we are virtually clear.
“We all want that magical 40 points, will 38 be enough? We must get there and then you'll be safe. Last year 35 was enough. This year, 38, I am hoping that is enough.”