Bruce confirmed as Sunderland boss

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The Independent Football

Steve Bruce was this afternoon confirmed as Sunderland's new manager after lengthy negotiations finally came to a successful conclusion.

The 48-year-old has sealed a three-year deal at the Stadium of Light to take up the challenge of establishing the Wearsiders in the top half of the Barclays Premier League table.

He will be unveiled at a press conference at 6pm tonight.

Chairman Niall Quinn said: "Steve will bring a professionalism and strength of character to this club that will really help to bring us forward to where we all want to be.

"He knows more than anyone what football means to people of this region and I'm confident that he will be able to instil into our players exactly what it means to play for this football club."

Bruce will be joined on Wearside by coaches Eric Black, Nigel Spink and Keith Bertschin, who have agreed to follow him from Wigan.

This afternoon's announcement brings an end to days of speculation surrounding a move which has been viewed as a foregone conclusion ever since news of the Black Cats' interest first emerged.

However, Sunderland have had to negotiate a series of hurdles to get their man, not least the issue of compensation with Wigan eventually accepting a figure slightly less than the £3million they paid Birmingham to land Bruce in November 2007.

They eventually opened face-to-face talks with the former Manchester United defender on Monday evening after he flew from a family holiday in Portugal to meet Quinn in Ireland.

Those discussions, over personal terms and the shape of Bruce's coaching staff, finally came to a close on Wearside today as Ricky Sbragia's successor was appointed.

Bruce began his managerial career at Sheffield United in July 1998, and has since been in charge at Huddersfield, Crystal Palace and Birmingham as well as his two spells, the first of them for just a few months, at Wigan.

He guided the Latics to an 11th-place finish at the end of last season despite losing Emile Heskey and Wilson Palacios in January.

But with Irish-American businessman Ellis Short having taken over at Sunderland with the promise of serious investment, the club represents a very different prospect.

There have been suggestions that Short could be prepared to hand Bruce a £60million war chest, although having seen Roy Keane spend almost £80million in two years to build a squad which only just avoided relegation, he is looking for value for money.

He has also set the manager the challenge of securing a top-10 finish next season and in doing so, take the club to the next level.

Bruce has already been linked with a series of transfer targets, including Tottenham striker Darren Bent and Wigan trio Antonio Valencia, Paul Scharner and Titus Bramble.

However, perhaps his first challenge will be to persuade the Wearside faithful of his commitment to the cause with his Tyneside roots no secret.

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