Bruce begins to think big after Bent repays faith

<b>Bolton 0 Sunderland 1:</b> For Steve Bruce it must seem a lot longer than 11 years since he took Notts County goalkeeper Andy Goram to Sheffield United as his first signing as a manager.
Click to follow

Now in his sixth management job, it is easy to see why Bruce is so excited about the possibilities at Sunderland under Ellis Short, particularly having made Darren Bent his first eight-figure signing when he picked up the striker in a £10m deal from Spurs earlier this month.

While Goram, now 45, retired three years ago after spells with Manchester United, Queen of the South, Elgin and Airdrie, there is an inescapable sense that Bruce is only just getting going and even the Sunderland fans are finding they like this particular Geordie.

"I've worked 10 years to be in this position where you can buy a £10m centre-forward," Bruce said. "In that sense I'm lucky and I want to try and make sure we get established, that we manage to stay in the Premier League and progress. I've got all the ingredients and tools to make this a really big football club."

Bruce built a solid reputation at Birmingham and Wigan and is quickly making an impression at the Stadium of Light, particularly with Bent, who is rebuilding his conf idence after a bitterly frustrating spell at Tottenham where he felt humiliated by Harry Redknapp.

"Every player, no matter who they are, needs the support of their manager," Bent said. "At times last season I felt I was left hung out there to dry, regardless of how I played or how many goals I scored, but since I've been at Sunderland it's been fantastic.

"I love being around the place. The manager has made a point of talking to me every day, encouraging me, telling me what he thinks of me, what he knows I can do. That makes me believe in myself and hopefully I can repay him for that."

Bent took just five minutes of his debut to score his first Sunderland goal with an impressive leap over Kevin Davies to head in from Steed Malbranque's cross to take the three points from an impressive display.

Bruce's new team face a more severe test against Chelsea tomorrow night, and could be without Malbranque and Kieran Richardson through injury, while the Bolton defender Gary Cahill admits it will take time for Gary Megson's new signings to settle at the Reebok Stadium.

"There's still 37 games to go," Cahill said. "But we can't afford to start like that again next week at Hull."

Bolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Ricketts, Knight, Cahill, Robinson; McCann (Lee 68), Muamba, Davis, Taylor; Davies, Elmander (Ward 84). Substitutes not used: Al Habsi, Cohen, O'Brien, Mark Davies, Samuel.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Fulop; Bardsley, Ferdinand, Collins, McCartney; Malbranque (Henderson 46), Cana, Cattermole, Richardson (Campbell 77); Jones, Bent. Substitutes not used: Gordon, Edwards, Nosworthy, Healy, Leadbitter.

Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands)

Booked: Bolton Muamba, Davis. Sunderland Campbell

Man of the match: Cattermole

Attendance: 22,247