STEVE Bruce insists he will never take the support of the Sunderland board for granted as he again emphasised Ellis Short is taking a long-term view of his Black Cats project.
Bruce (pictured right) was given an extraordinary vote of confidence by Niall Quinn on Thursday night, with the Sunderland chairman insisting that even defeat in every remaining game and relegation would not see a change of manager.
An upbeat Black Cats boss said he had known that was the case all along and said both Quinn and Short recognised it would take time to turn Sunderland into genuine Premier League contenders.
But he said that with Short’s “incredible” ambition he is sure Sunderland will be able to make the most of the once in a generation opportunity that his backing creates for them.
Bruce – who says he will not countenance relegation this season – will hope to build on Tuesday’s hugely encouraging 4-0 win against Bolton when big-spending Manchester City visit Wearside tomorrow.
And he will lead his side out in much better shape after what has been a good week for the Black Cats and Bruce.
“What was said is nice but I will never take anything for granted,” he said.
“I have been trying to say for weeks that the only pressure I was feeling was the pressure I put myself under.
“There was no summit meeting (on Wednesday). The support I have had from the board has been first class.
“The meeting was mainly about what the owner has done for the football club and what he wants to do.
“It is incredible what he wants to do here. If you are a Sunderland fan it is terrific.
“One of the reasons I came here was because of that – the owner and his ambitions. And we all know the chairman. I get no flannel from them – it is what it is.
“Both of them let me manage and get on with it. And for that I will always be grateful and try my best. I have a good job. A difficult one, but a good one.” Bruce remains confident that his team can finish in the top half of the Premier League – but it is a squad still beset by injuries and suspensions.
Lorik Cana misses out this weekend while Andy Reid has “no chance” of returning in time for the visit of Roberto Mancini’s City.
Lee Cattermole trained at ‘half pace’ on Friday but is hopeful of playing, while Kieran Richardson and Jordan Henderson, who both returned to training yesterday, have no more than a 50% chance of being involved.
That means Phil Bardsley may be a given a chance in the centre of midfield after Bruce said he was impressed with the way the defender adapted to life in that position on Wednesday.
A victory against Manchester City would almost guarantee the Black Cats a fourth year in the Premier League but to do it they will have to record their first back-to-back wins for 15 months.
That statistic, Bruce believes, illustrates how difficult it is to make progress in the ultra-competitive top flight.
“It is difficult,” he admitted.
“What the owner wants is to get it established as Premier League club and not have this thing hanging over it that it will always be involved in relegation. But you are up against big clubs with big histories,” he said.
“Look at Adam Johnson. We trailed him for six months, the opportunity comes and he goes to City. That is what we have to overcome.
“We have the money but it is difficult to get the ones who make us better. Eventually we will get there.
“This club has never had the finances to be able to attract, but we have a damn good chance now.”