NIALL Quinn is so confident Steve Bruce is the right manager for Sunderland he would not even sack him if the Black Cats lost every single one of their remaining ten games this season.
Bruce guided Sunderland to their first win in 15 games against Bolton on Tuesday night to move six points above the dreaded drop zone.
But, even while the Black Cats were being dragged into an unexpected battle against relegation, Bruce retained the unwavering backing of Quinn and owner Ellis Short.
Chairman Quinn is adamant Bruce is the man to take the club forward long term as he lavished praise on the former Manchester United defender and urged fans to show the same patience towards him.
“I can assure you now that even if we don’t win another game between now and the end of the season, Steve Bruce will be manager here next year,” said Quinn, who confirmed every single member of the Sunderland squad – as well as Bruce – would take a 40% pay cut in the event of relegation.
“If we go down, he’ll still be manager. I just feel he shares the same passion that the fans have, the owner has, we all have. And he does it in a diligent way.
“The way he carries himself and projects our club is everything we wanted. We’re trying to make a step up in the toughest league in the world.
“We know it’s going to take guts and determination and hard work, aligned with other stuff, like a good transfer policy, getting things right tactically and in terms of motivation.
“The pressure in the Premier League is incredible and there were some tough knock backs, but we think he’s the right man to get this club where we all want it to be.”
Bruce has endured a horrendous three months waiting for a league win, but the comprehensive victory over Bolton has lifted the storm clouds. Quinn is convinced his manager has made vast
improvements in his first season in charge, despite the alarming slump which saw the Black Cats break a Premier League record for games without a win.
This, though, is just the first stage of Bruce’s mission to establish Sunderland as a top-ten club and, eventually, trophy contenders.
Quinn explained: “As good as his signings were in the summer, and as well as he prepared to bring players into the club, he’ll look for something different this summer: he’ll look for character. He’ll tell you that himself.
“You need to be a big strong character to play at Sunderland because the chips can be down at times. It’s easy to play well when you’re 3-0 up, but when you’re a goal down and the pressure’s on it’s different. That’ll come further up the list of requirements.
“For that reason alone I think his appointment has gone really well, he sees what needs to be done here and people believe in him. He’s got a great staff around him. We hit this awful blip, there were excuses and without covering them all, he stayed with it.
“We’re not out of the woods by any imagination, but what I was most pleased with from the other night was not defending a 1-0 lead in injury time by hitting the ball off the line.
“We set a new standard for ourselves and we knew that Steve would bring us that when he got a settled back four, when he got the confidence and the players back.”
Quinn continued: “A couple of draws helped. It was tough, but Steve played a blinder in that period. The players know they have to keep to that standard and that was one of the messages Ellis Short gave them yesterday. He said: “I’m delighted with how you played the other night but I’m not here to pat you on the back about it, I’m here to tell you everyone expects it in the next ten games’. The players agreed with that.”
Quinn (pictured above) believes the positive impact of Bruce’s appointment will become steadily more apparent as he admitted the 49-year-old had initially struggled to adapt to the pressure that comes with such a big job.
He said: “If you trace back to when Steve came here, he knew he was coming to a big club, he felt it was a step up in his career, he felt he’d done his apprenticeship, worked his ticket elsewhere and made good success stories.
“He knew the pressure was probably a little greater here, but there’s been nothing like feeling it and living it for the six or eight months since then. He knows an awful lot more now.”