STEVE Bruce has put Sunderland’s disjointed performance down to inexperience as he refused to be too critical of his players despite the failure to beat an under-pressure Fulham side.
The Black Cats rarely strung a decent move together at Craven Cottage and their inability to punish a home side clearly struggling for confidence will inevitably call into question their top -eight credentials.
But, on the flip side, Bruce’s side defended superbly for the whole 90 minutes, despite losing Anton Ferdinand early in the first half with another hamstring strain, and took a point from a game they probably would have lost last year.
The draw took them up to sixth in the table on Saturday night and Bruce once again thanked his lucky stars he has been the time and backing to let a highly promising young side have a chance to blossom.
He said: “I’m the longest-serving manager in the North East and I’ve only been here 18 months.
“It’s been carnage and chaos in the North East. I’m extremely proud of what we have done.
“We’ve gone for a young side, a vibrant squad if you like. We have the nucleus, the makings of a very good side here, but they are young and when you are young you are going to get performances which are up and down a bit. Unfortunately we got a down one at Fulham.
“I couldn’t fault their effort and their endeavour, but you do get inconsistency. Having said that, we are sixth in the Premier League and four out of our next six games are at home where our record is fantastic. Let’s see what we can achieve.”
And, with all the upheaval at Newcastle still fresh in his mind, Bruce once again admitted he was extremely lucky to land the Sunderland job.
He added: “I was linked with Newcastle years ago. It’s gone, I’m delighted to be the Sunderland manager. One of the reasons why I came back home was because of the people I would be working for.
“Niall (Quinn), the chairman, is a football person, and I’m lucky, I’ve got one of the really good jobs. The people who run the club let me get on with managing the team and the owner has put his hand in his pocket for the last two years.
“We’ve come a long way in 18 months already, and well done to them because the people I work with are good people.”