Steve Bruce urges Nicklas Bendtner to be more selfish

 

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has ordered striker Nicklas Bendtner to develop a selfish streak to fire the club out of relegation trouble.

The 23-year-old Denmark international has enjoyed an impressive opening to his season-long loan spell at the Stadium of Light from Arsenal, but has managed just two goals in eight starts to date.

Bendtner this week refused to rule out a permanent move to Wearside, but Bruce, while delighted with his contribution so far, is keen to see the striker start thinking more about himself than the team.

He said: "He's such a good footballer. His link-up play is excellent and he drifts into wide areas terrifically well. He is very comfortable.

"But he needs to be a bit more selfish and go and play for himself.

"Goalscorers are usually selfish. They are not bothered, they just want to score a goal and that's all they are interested in.

"Strikers are judged by goals. You can be a good player, a very good player, but you are judged by goals, so we have got to try to change Nick's mentality slightly to get him into that and score more goals.

"Nick has got to try to get that mentality if he can.

"He is very, very capable - he has got five in five for his country - so we need him to go and score a few for us if he can."

Bruce's desperation is understandable with the Black Cats having scored just 14 Barclays Premier League goals to date this season, a return which has helped leave them in 15th place ahead of tomorrow's home clash with bottom-of-the-table Wigan.

They sit just two points clear of the drop zone and alarmingly, have won only two of their last 14 league games on Wearside with the Latics one of their victims in April.

However, Bruce laughed off suggestions that the meeting with his former club could represent a pivotal point in his reign.

He said: "Listen, it's a big game, it's a big game, but I have played in big games, I have managed big games.

"If we win it, we go into the top 10, probably, and what's all the fuss about?

"If we lose it - I don't contemplate that. I know we are capable of winning it, but it won't be easy.

"We must have a bit of patience, a bit of bottle and a bit of guile and win the match. It's as simple as that.

"I am not even going to contemplate that we are relegation contenders. In my opinion, we have never been close to it for the past two years.

"We finished 13th in our first year and 10th last year. I am always looking up."

Tomorrow's game comes at the end of a week during which Wigan chairman Dave Whelan indicated that he could step down and hand the reins to his grandson David, and Bruce, who had two spells as his manager, paid tribute to his achievements.

He said: "I don't think it will ever be repeated, what Dave Whelan has achieved at Wigan.

"It's quite remarkable, somebody from the town taking them from non-league to the Premier League and staying there for eight years and taking them to cup finals - it's a quite remarkable, remarkable story.

"I have had the pleasure of managing the club twice. It's a great little club which manages in adversity year after year after year, but does it very well.

"If it's time for him to step down, then I wish him a very, very good retirement because he certainly deserves it."

PA

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