Steve Bruce Treading On A Rocky Roadby Jack Kitson / 30 September 2011, 09:05
It is safe to say that a defeat at home to West Brom on Saturday is likely to have grave consequences for Sunderland manager Steve Bruce. The pressure is mounting on the former Wigan boss following his side's wobbly start to the season and he could face a supporter backlash if he fails to get a performance out of his players against The Baggies, who have similarly endured a difficult opening six games. Monday night's miserable defeat to Norwich City means that Bruce has had his odds cut to just 3/1 in the Next Premier League Manager To Be Sacked betting market, making him one of the favourites for the chop.
Five points from six games is simply not good enough for a club who had pre-season ambitions of finishing in a European spot. Consistency has been a major problem for the new look Sunderland team, with Bruce's tactical decisions coming in for fierce criticism. A respective draw away to Liverpool on the opening day of the new campaign was followed by a disappointing home defeat to fierce rivals Newcastle. The Black Cats were then held to a drew away to newly promoted Swansea before losing to Chelsea. They finally got their first win of the season against Stoke 11 days ago, only to come crashing back down to earth with a shocking performance against Norwich on Monday.
Bruce spent heavily in the summer bringing in the likes of Connor Wickham (£13m) and Craig Gardner (£5m) but his stars are yet to shine with Sunderland languishing down in 14th. Although league standings don't hold too much relevance this early on it will be the performances that the fans on Wearside will be most disappointed about. Bruce can place the blame on his below-par players but ultimately it always comes down to the manager and if results do not improve rapidly he will most certainly be given the chop.
Sunderland have been priced as the 6/5 favourites with Ladbrokes to beat West Brom on Saturday, while the Baggies are available at 12/5 to come away with the three points. A draw can be found at 9/4.
All odds supplied by Ladbrokes.