Bruce vows to learn from Sunderland crisis

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The Independent Online

Steve Bruce is confident he will be a better manager for the experience of guiding Sunderland through their current crisis.

The 49-year-old saw his side booed off at half-time at the Stadium of Light on Saturday as the home fans vented their frustration at a run of 11 Barclays Premier League games without a victory.

They head for bottom side Portsmouth tomorrow night knowing an extension of that sequence could see the four-point advantage they currently enjoy over the bottom three evaporate and plunge them deep into trouble.

However, Bruce is doing what he has done for much of his managerial career to date, rolling up his sleeves and preparing to drag his side out of the mire.

He said: "When you come through it, it makes you better because you learn from it.

"Nobody likes it, nobody enjoys it, you would be lying if you said you enjoyed it. But certainly you learn from it and you take it on with you.

"I have worked hard all my life and I will try to work as hard as I can to pull us around.

"I am the same one who came in six months ago, nothing has changed in that respect.

"There's no hiding place from it, we have just got to get a result, it's as simple as that."

Bruce arrived on Wearside to the delight of fans who recognised his proven track record and took delight in the club's ability to attract him after he had previously rejected the chance to take over at rivals Newcastle, the team he supported as a boy.

However, for the first time since he was unveiled, his Geordie roots have been questioned.

He said: "I always knew it was never going to be easy. We had a wonderful start and everybody, including maybe myself, got a little bit carried away.

"The one thing is, I have got broad shoulders. I have been in it a long time and if they want to use that stick, then fine, I have got no problem with it.

"What I would say to all the supporters - I have just seen we have sold over 1,000 tickets for tomorrow, which is quite incredible - is I am still enjoying the challenge.

"We will come through it. There's no problem."

Bruce admitted after Saturday's game that his players had been nervous and edgy in front of their own fans and is hoping the trip to Fratton Park might come as a welcome change.

He said: "I have seen big players fall, I have seen big players not be able to handle it.

"The one thing I have learned here is our recruitment has to be based on big players who can handle an expectant crowd.

"The demands are very, very big and you have to be able to handle it, otherwise you are going to find what we did on Saturday, where we didn't handle the occasion at all."

Bruce will head south without 19-year-old midfielder Jordan Henderson, who will have a scan on his injured ankle on Thursday and will be sidelined for at least four weeks.

Bruce said: "Arguably, taking Darren Bent away from the equation, Jordan has possibly been our best performer all season.

"For a young boy to come in in his first season, he has been terrific. He will be a big loss."