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Behind Enemy Lines - Part 17

Behind Enemy Lines - Part 17

BEHIND ENEMY LINES - PART 17

BRUCE THE RIGHT MAN
As we approach the end of the season, I thought i'd analyse whether overall, Steve Bruce has been the right man to take us forward. Bruce took over quite soon after the end of last season and immediately had to fend off questions about his allegiance to Newcastle United. Bruce batted off the question well and was open and honest about supporting our rivals as a boy but also said that wouldn't change the fact that he was here to do a job for Sunderland. The doubters in the support soon got behind Bruce as we made our best ever start to a Premier League season. Bruce seemed to be keeping it simple and playing players in the right positions and playing to their strengths which was very refreshing to see after so many managers going back to the Peter Reid days who were stubborn and made some questionable decisions in regards to player positions & roles.
Once the injuries and suspensions began to kick in for us, Bruce began to struggle and then started to make mistakes such as playing Kieran Richardson at left back, continuing to play Cana & Cattermole in central midfield when this obviously wasn't working when the pressure was on. Recently, though with a more settled side in place, his ability has come to the fore again and has the team playing some lovely football. A brave decision to stick with the likes of David Meyler in midfield has also come up trumps.
Overall, Bruce has made a good start to his SAFC career, going close now to establishing us as a Premier League club. His one major error this season, was probably selling too many players in the summer transfer window and leaving us light in the Winter. Even then though, an unprecedented run of injuries & suspensions didn't help him in that respect.
A bigger test next season for the boss. Pushing on to the next level, with Newcastle in the league putting the pressure on too. But, it's one I think he can pass and becoming one of our best managers of the last 50 years.

PRESSURE OFF
The pressure should be off for our players this weekend, as we look to grab a very rare away win in the Premier League at struggling West Ham. A win at Upton Park would put the Hammers close to the drop. But despite their position, this will be very tough for Sunderland to take anything from. Our record in London is abysmal and little better at the Boleyn Ground. The loss of Mensah and possibly Turner will be a big blow, although Da Silva has looked good recently deputising. I'd like to see Alan Hutton back, hopefully, from injury to solidify the back four and as long as we keep our recent form going we should be able to pinch at least a point and with Darren Bent in such lightning form, we are a good bet to score goals.

Prediction: West Ham 2 SAFC 2

IMPORTANCE OF YOUTH
It's good to see the club making efforts to tie down David Meyler & Jordan Henderson, both of whom having made sensational starts to their careers on Wearside. Meyler, a signing from Cork by Roy Keane has stepped in nicely to a central midfield berth and looked very comfortable coping with top class Premier League opposition. Jordan Henderson, after gaining rave reviews in his loan spell at Coventry has also had a good season, if blighted by injury. Henderson may develop in to the next great Sunderland winger. He has the pace and his final ball has also come on leaps and bounds this season. With Martin Waghorn scoring goals in his loan spell at Leicester and Jack Colback doing well at Ipswich, the future is looking bright for the clubs youth.

BET OF THE WEEKEND
West Brom can seal promotion to the Premier League at Doncaster. Take them to celebrate with three points. Double them up with Leicester to win at Peterborough.

That's all for now,
PW

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Writer:Paul Wallis
Date:Saturday April 10 2010
Time: 8:02AM

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