Sunderland manager Steve Bruce 'shocked' by criticism

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has admitted he is "shocked" by the criticism he has received following his side's poor start to the season.

The Black Cats drew 2-2 at home to West Brom on Saturday, leaving them with six points from seven games.

"Suddenly there's a lot of clamouring, which after six or seven games in is ridiculous," said Bruce. "I'm shocked.

"I'm the same manager who took us to 10th last year and I'll carry on doing the best I can to make us improve."

Last season, Bruce guided Sunderland to a 10th-place finish in the Premier League and oversaw a large turnaround in playing staff in the summer, bringing in 11 players, including defenders John O'Shea and Wes Brown from Manchester United and Nicklas Bendtner on loan from Arsenal.

Eight players left the Stadium of Light, including midfielder Jordan Henderson for Liverpool and Asamoah Gyan, who signed on loan for United Arab Emirates side Al-Ain.

"We've had a massive turnaround in personnel and them lads need time to settle in," explained Bruce.

"We haven't hit the ground running but with the amount of changes we've made we need a little bit of patience and time. Unfortunately in football that's not there any more.

"I'm convinced when the players get to know each other better we will improve.

"I can understand the supporters' frustration because we haven't had the best of starts but we've just had the third best season in 55 years last season. Let's not forget that. It's not all doom and gloom.

"You lose a game and it engulfs you so quickly but we have to be stronger than that. We're trying to put together a new team and I've seen signs today that will put us in good stead."

West Brom raced into a two-goal lead at the Stadium of Light through goals from James Morrison and Shane Long.

Sunderland drew level with two quick-fire goals of their own midway through the half from Bendtner and Ahmed Elmohamady, but Bruce admitted he initially feared the worst following what has been a turbulent week for the club.

On Thursday, the club after he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and possession of a Class A drug.

"Those first five minutes summed our week up," added Bruce. "It was a difficult afternoon for the players. After the bad start we've made to the season they needed to dig deep and for that I commend them."

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