Football FanCast columnist Tom Jones wonders whether Steve Bruce can make Sunderland a more consistent side.
Sunderland go into this weekend’s Premier League fixture against West Ham as a team that is currently consistently inconsistent. The Black Cats have only picked up 4 points on the road this season and will be glad to get back to the Stadium of Light where they have won 4 of their 5 league games. But manager Steve Bruce is becoming increasingly frustrated by his team’s unpredictable performances and has threatened to make drastic changes. But will reading the riot act to his players make any difference or should Sunderland be content with their start to their season?
To a large extent is has been a case of Jekyll and Hyde for Sunderland so far this season and their fans must be slightly frustrated that they can’t reproduce the form that they have shown glimpses of. Sunderland haven’t won away from home in the league since the opening day of the season when they beat Bolton 1-0 at the Reebok Stadium, and the three losses against Birmingham, Burnley and Stoke have been particularly disappointing for Bruce. Is now the time to nip the problem in the bud and tell the players that are certain times this season they simply haven’t been good enough, or should Bruce be concentrating on the positives rather than the negatives?
Steve Bruce has told The Mirror that he’s ready to tell the players how it is and is not afraid to be blunt and brutal in his criticism of the team. He said “If I have to read the riot act to players then I will, because if you slip below your standards in any walk of life you deserve a rollicking.” But if Bruce decides to drop some of his stars will the lack of strength in depth of the Sunderland squad begin to show and does Bruce have enough options available to him? Bruce further stated “make no mistake if I get another performance like the one at Birmingham I won’t put up with it. If they’re not prepared to do it properly, I’ll stamp on it, simple as that. I’ve got to change the whole mental attitude that’s been here for years.”
So is Sunderland’s problem a mental one rather than a lack of ability, and are they really good enough to challenge for European places come the end of the season? What have the fans made to their start to the season and is Bruce right to take a hard line approach with the players? One thing is for sure, Steve Bruce won’t let his team get away with anything, and if they’re not putting in 100% than he won’t be afraid to tell his players like it is and put a rocket up their backsides.