Bruce targets Carling Cup glory
Monday 22 August 2011
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce will attempt to put the misery of another derby disaster to one side as he targets Carling Cup glory.
The 50-year-old will take his team to npower Championship side Brighton tomorrow night hoping to launch a run which will take them all the way to Wembley, something upon which he set his sights the day he was appointed to the hot-seat at the Stadium of Light in June 2009.
Bruce said: "I have said since I walked through the door here, can we win a cup? We are capable of winning four or five games.
"We couldn't have had a more difficult start. Brighton have done extremely well, so we will treat them with the respect they deserve and hopefully win the cup tie."
That task might have proved somewhat easier had the Black Cats headed for the south coast with a derby victory under their belts.
Instead, they left Wearside perhaps relieved to be escaping the post-mortem launched in the wake of yet another demoralising defeat by arch-rivals Newcastle on home soil.
Bruce is yet to taste victory against the team he supported as a boy in three attempts as Sunderland manager, and a return of just a single point from the nine on offer to date has given his most ardent critics more ammunition.
The pain was all the more acute as the latest reverse was in part self-inflicted, with the Black Cats failing to capitalise on the pressure they exerted before the break before succumbing to Ryan Taylor's 62nd-minute free-kick as goalkeeper Simon Mignolet lost his bearings.
Bruce has called for a similar response to the one he got from his players last season when they engineered a concerted fightback after losing 5-1 at St James' Park, and striker Asamoah Gyan is confident the plea will be answered.
He told the Sunderland Echo: "There's definitely pressure on us now, but that's normal after a defeat like that.
"Personally, I'm not happy because I have played two games and not scored. But we have just started the league and with the kind of players we have got, I hope we can score some goals.
"We need to start winning some games, but we have got quality players who are capable of winning games.
"We are down, but we are not out. We have just got to keep our heads up and keep going.
"We understand the supporters (are disappointed) because it's a derby game. Every derby game, we play for the fans and we want to win too. We have got family behind us who want us to win too, so we are all disappointed.
"But it happened last year and afterwards we came back stronger. I hope that happens again."
Bruce's squad is very different this time around, with 10 permanent deals having been struck during the summer.
Some fans have expressed consternation at the fact that only two of them - Wes Brown and Sebastian Larsson - have started the Barclays Premier League clashes with Liverpool and the Magpies, with David Vaughan, Ji Dong-won, Craig Gardner and Connor Wickham having been used as substitutes.
Bruce, while determined to win at Brighton, intends to use the depth of his squad, and that could mean starts for several more of the newcomers with goalkeeper Keiren Westwood likely to be one of the beneficiaries.
The manager said: "People need to play, but we will be treating it with all the respect it deserves.
"There are one or two people itching to play, so they will play."
However, former Manchester United defender John O'Shea is unlikely to make a competitive debut for the club as he works his way to full fitness after a hamstring injury, while Phil Bardsley is suspended after being sent off at the weekend.
Provisional squad: Mignolet, Westwood, Brown, Richardson, Turner, Bramble, Ferdinand, Laing, Cattermole, Gardner, Vaughan, Colback, Elmohamady, Gyan, Sessegnon, Wickham, Ji, Cook.
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