Dial a cliché, Morrissey once advised us at his downbeat best. Call that number now and it is likely that you will get Steve Bruce. Stopping short of likening his health to that of an under-the-weather parrot, every old platitude was trotted out by the Sunderland manager, who, in need of providing some forthright answers to the questions his team's second successive season-debilitating slump requires, instead clicked into automatic pilot to further frustrate fans who are increasingly disenchanted with his well-funded though stagnating reign.
The cliché count went over the moon, so to speak, after Bruce had come a distinct second-best to his former Manchester United team-mate Mark Hughes, who, unlike Bruce, is doing what it says on his job description. He is managing. All Bruce is managing is to further alienate supporters by trotting out the usual stale list of excuses and out-moded soundbites.
When asked about how he goes about righting a run of four points from 33 Bruce drew attention, not for the first time, to his injury list – current crock count 10 – before promising his side would "come out, roll their sleeves up, and have a go," in the final three games this season. There was further less-than-searing insight when he added: "We've got to bite the bullet and fight the flak that will come our way again." Too right it will. Sunderland may not have a fit striker to choose from, but Fulham will have secured few more comfortable clean sheets this season.
Niall Quinn has promised further funds from owner Ellis Short to address the side's dire shortage up front, but at this rate the chairman would be better off coming out of retirement.
Booked: Sunderland Sessegnon.
Man of the match Davies.
Referee M Atkinson (West Yorks)