STEVE Bruce has come out fighting after admitting Sunderland’s derby defeat and an early Carling Cup exit have led to an outbreak of ‘mass hysteria’ on Wearside.
Any feel-good factor gained from the opening-day draw at Liverpool has disappeared after Sunderland’s 1-0 home reverse against Newcastle was followed by an extra-time defeat at Championship Brighton in the second round of the cup in midweek.
Those results have heaped pressure on Bruce and his side ahead of this afternoon’s trip to Swansea City.
However, the Black Cats boss believes some of the flak he has taken this week is unfair, particularly as neutrals agreed Sunderland were by far the superior side in the derby and deserved to win.
“I always come out fighting, that is part of my nature and I am sure the team will do the same. Had results been the other way round – say we lost at Liverpool but had drawn with Newcastle – everyone would say okay.
“The cup-tie would still have been disappointing, but there would not be this mass hysteria which has suddenly engulfed us.
“When we play football here in the North East, that is part of it. Some of it has been unjust and unfair, but you have to live with it.
“After watching the derby again, we hammered them in the first half – they [Newcastle] never had a kick, although I accept they could have had a penalty.
“In the second half, we gave a bad goal away but there was nothing in it.
“The derby went against us. We are aware of that and we realise that, to some, that is unforgivable up here.
“However, we have lost a game 1-0, it was not an embarrassment, not a humiliation. We have to live with it, but we will not be derailed from what we are trying to achieve.
“We are just an inch away from it, and we have the nucleus of a very good squad.”
Bruce also revealed one journalist had even gone so far as to text Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn to ask whether Bruce’s job was safe following the derby defeat.
Despite the disappointing start to the campaign, he can count on the rock-solid support of Quinn and – more importantly – owner Ellis Short, who backed him by than £20m over the summer as ten new faces arrived at the club.
Bruce added: “Niall and Ellis are disappointed too, but they understand what we are trying to do.
“Finding my future questioned after just two games, I find that very disappointing.”