STEVE Bruce’s mood will not be helped this week by the news he has been hit with a £2,500 fine by the Football Association for criticising a referee.
In the end, Bruce received a slap on the wrists rather than a slap in the face for his scathing comments about referee Andre Marriner following the dismissal of Michael Turner in Sunderland’s defeat at Manchester City in December, but he is still irritated by the whole affair.
Bruce has walked a dangerous path this season with some of his observations about officials and he admitted he had to bite his tongue on Saturday after Steve Bennett awarded Arsenal a late penalty to seal a 2-0 victory over the Black Cats.
The FA’s patience finally snapped with him before Christmas when he described Marriner’s decision to send off Turner for an aerial challenge with Gareth Barry as “obscene”, “a joke” and “an outrage”.
That led to yesterday’s fine at a hearing in London and the 49-year-old has also been warned about his future conduct, which made his decision not to rant about Bennett all the more sensible.
An FA statement said: “At an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce was fined for improper conduct.
“The commission took into consideration Bruce’s admission of the charge and his previous exemplary record in relation to media comments.”
Sunderland lost the match at Eastlands 4-3 and the club were quick to appeal against the Turner decision, which came in the closing stages of the match. However, the Black Cats’ challenge to Turner’s dismissal for catching Barry with his elbow was dismissed – and the defender had a fourth game added to his automatic three-match ban because the FA felt “the claim had no prospect of success”.
Bruce (right) subsequently revealed he had been so incensed by the decision to extend the ban that he had to leave the training ground to calm down.
Sunderland’s teenage striker sensation Ryan Noble has been rewarded for a prolific season in the reserve and youth teams with his first England Under-19 call up, while Lee Cattermole has been named in the Under-21 squad. Noble made his first team debut as a substitute in the FA Cup win over Barrow earlier this year and has been named in the U19 squad to face Holland next month.
The 17-year-old, who played for Belford House as a youngster, has scored an incredible 33 goals this season and has impressed Bruce with his pace and clinical finishing.
Sunderland have already turned down a number of loan offers for him this year because Bruce does not feel he is ready for that sort of experience, but he is delighted with his England recognition as he will be playing in his age group. Bruce said: “Ryan has made good progress this season and the experience will serve him well. He is quick and he is a natural finisher.
“It’s a quite exceptional record that he’s got so far. It’s amazing.
“We have to give him a chance to grow and develop before we think about sending him out on loan.
“ However, he is a great prospect and we are very pleased with him. It is flattering clubs came in for him, but I was not interested in it at this stage and I had to disappoint them.”
Meanwhile, Bruce’s chances of landing Portsmouth defender Marc Wilson outside of the transfer window appear to have ended as the Premier League have refused to give Pompey permission to sell players to help alleviate their debts outside of the designated period for this type of business.