STEVE Bruce is confident Sunderland have turned a corner despite the defeat at Arsenal – as he admitted he had helped fuel unrealistic ambitions at the start of the season with talk of a European push.
Bruce was pleased with much of what he saw against the Gunners and felt his side deserved a share of the spoils.
A draw would have been harsh on the home side, but at least Sunderland went about their work with determination and enthusiasm.
While the pressure continues to grow because of a 13-match winless run, Bruce was buoyant after the game despite acknowledging the fact the club’s owner Ellis Short probably expected better things this season because of the money he has invested.
Bruce said: “The bottom ten is very tight and I think every team in that bottom ten is looking nervously over its shoulder. We are not the only ones. We have to be realistic.
“The owner has spent a lot of money, he backed me in the summer and he backed the manager before me to try and ensure we are not involved in a relegation battle.
“You have to remember we have finished fifth from bottom two years in a row. We are trying to become an established Premier League club, but we have only been out of the Championship two years.
“Wigan have been in the Premier League five years, Bolton ten. That is what we are trying to achieve and that is why I came here.
“I wanted that challenge and I am still relishing it, but you don’t go from finishing fifth-bottom to pushing for Europe, that is unrealistic.”
The Black Cats boss was happy to take whatever positives he could from the defeat at the weekend as he looks for a change in the team’s fortunes.
He added: “We had a wonderful start, the best this club has had in 35 years, but I think that has made it worse.
“We had a big piece of luck with the beachball incident against Liverpool, but I don’t think we have had any since.
“We will stick at it. We had three or four good chances against Arsenal and you don’t normally get that – but we did not stick any of them away and you have to against Arsenal.”