Steve Bruce remains optimistic about Sunderland future

 

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is confident the tide will turn for his players as they attempt to start their season in earnest.

The Black Cats face Bruce's former club Wigan at the Stadium of Light on Saturday desperately needing a win to drag themselves away from the lower reaches of the Barclays Premier League table.

Sunderland have won only two of their 12 league games to date in the current campaign on their way to a points total of just 11, and the manager knows that will have to improve significantly if they are to build upon last season's top-10 finish.

However, Bruce believes the foundations are in place and insists he has not had to reassure his players of that after a less than impressive start.

He said: "I think they know. I only think we have played badly once, which was Norwich.

"In the games we have played, we have shown a bit of character and something about us.

"We gave a great account of ourselves at Anfield, we did well at the Emirates, we did very well at Old Trafford, where we could have picked up something.

"But the way we have played has encouraged me to say we are not far short. It will take a little bit of time."

The key to any side's hopes rests largely with their home form, and that is something which has deserted the Black Cats in 2011.

Since they beat Blackburn 3-0 on Wearside on New Year's Day, they have won only twice in 14 league games on their own turf and were also knocked out of last season's FA Cup by Notts County.

Sunderland were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light by Fulham last Saturday when only the woodwork and a superb late save by keeper Mark Schwarzer denied them the victory they craved.

However, Bruce is adamant that the relative lack of success at home is not preying on the minds of his players.

He said: "It's not psychological, certainly not. We have lost two at home [this season], and one of those was against Chelsea.

"We must improve on it, it can get better and if we have a really good home performance, I think that will just settle everybody down.

"Since the turn of the year, the home form has been disappointing, there's no disputing that.

"The one thing you need is to play well in front of your home supporters, but I think the vast majority can see what we are trying to do and see that we are improving."

PA

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