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Page last updated at 18:27 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 19:27 UK

Bruce named as Sunderland manager

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Bruce ready for 'big club' challenge

Sunderland have confirmed Steve Bruce as their new manager.

The Northumberland-born 48-year-old left Wigan and signed a three-year contract to succeed Ricky Sbragia, who stood down at the end of last season.

Bruce has had previous spells managing Sheffield United, Huddersfield, Crystal Palace, Birmingham and Wigan - twice.

"It's the perfect time," he said. "I've worked over 10 years for a chance like this. It's up to me to put a team on the pitch now. I can't wait to start."

Bruce's second spell at Wigan began in November 2007 and last season he took them to 11th in the Premier League, while Sunderland finished 16th.

With Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn feeling "invigorated" after his new appointment, Bruce added: "It didn't take much persuasion. This is the perfect step with the size of the football club and structure.

"I just want to continue the progression of the club over the last few years. An average of 42,500 shows what kind of support we have.

Steve Bruce news conference

"The aim is to take the progression forward, we don't want to be flirting with relegation. To get up to 10th where Wigan were would be a huge improvement."

BBC Sport reported eight days ago that Bruce was Sunderland's number one target to be their next manager.

Quinn, who became club chairman in July 2006, added: "Steve will bring a professionalism and strength of character to this club that will really help to bring us forward to where we all want to be.

"Steve knows more than anyone what football means to people of this region, and I'm confident that he will be able to instil into our players exactly what it means to play for this football club."

Bruce will be assisted by his backroom team of Eric Black, Nigel Spink and former Sunderland striker Keith Bertschin.

With a few weeks to work with all his new players before transfer deadline, Bruce said: "I'm going to give them all a chance.

"Whatever happened in the past, I'm not interested in. I'm proud to sit here as Sunderland manager and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

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Wigan are set to receive a compensation fee approaching £3m for Bruce, having paid £3m themselves to secure the manager from Birmingham in 2007.

Latics chairman Dave Whelan said everyone associated with the club would be "devastated" to see Bruce and Black depart, but thanked them for their contribution to the club.

"What Steve has achieved here over the past 18 months has been magnificent," he said.

"After a period of instability he put the team in order and started laying the foundations for a prosperous future."

Whelan also said Roberto Martinez was his number one choice as Bruce's replacement but that he did not have permission to talk to the Swansea boss.

Bruce's appointment comes less than two weeks after Sbragia stood down despite helping to secure the club's Premier League status.

Sbragia steps down at Sunderland

Sbragia, who took charge after Roy Keane resigned in December, saw Sunderland score eight goals in picking up seven points from his first three games, but the revival was short lived as the season ended with one victory in 13 matches.

Sunderland's dismal end to the season culminated with a 3-2 home defeat by Chelsea - a result which would have led to relegation had both Newcastle and Hull won their final fixtures.

Sbragia stood down immediately after the Chelsea defeat, saying the club needed a "bigger name", though Quinn was quick to add that the Scot would be staying at the club in a role believed to focus on player recruitment.

The appointment of former Manchester United defender Bruce is the first significant change since American businessman Ellis Short took total control of Sunderland at the end of the season.

Bruce has already been linked with a series of transfer targets, including Tottenham striker Darren Bent and Wigan trio Antonio Valencia, Paul Scharner and Titus Bramble.



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see also
Martinez is Wigan's first choice
03 Jun 09 |  Swansea
Bruce free to talk to Sunderland
28 May 09 |  Sunderland
Tycoon secures Sunderland buyout
27 May 09 |  Sunderland
Sbragia resigns from Sunderland
25 May 09 |  Sunderland
Yorke heads Sunderland clear-out
28 May 09 |  Sunderland
What now for north-east football?
24 May 09 |  Football
Birmingham lose caretaker Black
27 Nov 07 |  Birmingham
Blues dispute leaves Bruce bitter
26 Nov 07 |  Wigan
Bruce confirmed as Wigan manager
23 Nov 07 |  Wigan


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