Steve Bruce not concerned by Sunderland criticism

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Steve Bruce has insisted the criticism which came his way after Sunderland's disappointing start to the season was "water off a duck's back".

The 50-year-old found himself under intense pressure, from outside the club at least, as the Black Cats went five games without a victory and scored only two goals.

Some commentators even suggested that last Sunday's Barclays Premier League visit of Stoke to the Stadium of Light could prove pivotal for the former Manchester United defender after another summer of significant change on Wearside.

In the event, a resounding 4-0 victory over Tony Pulis' side was just what was needed, and the days which have followed have seen the smile return to Bruce's face.

He said: "It's a bit easier. Hurt is the wrong word, I suppose. I get disappointed for the ones around me who care a little bit about me.

"It hurts them more than it hurts me. I have been in it a long time. It becomes water off a duck's back.

"I couldn't quite get to grips with the intensity of it so soon, but there you go."

However, Bruce has been in the game long enough to know that the respite may last only as long as the positive results continue, the occupational hazard of modern football management.

He said: "Pressure? We are always under pressure. There are only so many Premier League managers and it was my turn.

"There would probably be 19 others delighted it was my turn.

"We need to go and win on Monday and then probably the attention will focus on somebody else who is unfortunately having a tough time at that particular moment."

Monday night will see Bruce return to familiar territory as he takes his team to promoted Norwich, where he played with such distinction to win his move to Old Trafford.

Such are the vagaries of his job that should the Black Cats win at Carrow Road, they will have enjoyed a better start to their league campaign than they did 12 months ago.

Bruce said: "It just shows you what it is. I can't stop that, unfortunately.

"That's why I scratched my head for a few weeks. It's quite incredible, but that's the way it is, it's the way it is managing here.

"It surprised me a little bit, but I wasn't too surprised that it was coming my way."

Bruce recruited 11 new faces, including the conversion of Ahmed Elmohamady's loan deal into a permanent move, during the summer, and fielded seven of them in the starting line-up last weekend after refusing to press his latest recruits into action too quickly.

The move paid off handsomely with former Blackpool midfielder David Vaughan, one of three Bosman free transfer acquisitions, particularly impressive.

Bruce said: "The Bosman situation, we did our homework and we went to work very quickly on it.

"He and [Sebastian] Larsson on free transfers, and [Keiren] Westwood, it was a terrific piece of business.

"They are all very good players, but Vaughan and Larsson in particular have played in the Premier League, and played for years in Seb's case.

"David had a wonderful year last year. If you ask any Blackpool supporter - I know Charlie Adam got all the headlines, but if you ask any Blackpool supporter, they will say David was their player of the year, which is good to hear."