Bruce defiant despite defeat

The 50-year-old Geordie was subjected to chants for him to go after

substitute Franco di Santo fired the Latics to victory at the

Stadium of Light in front of chairman Ellis Short. Short had

earlier written in his programme notes there was no need for panic

after a difficult start to the season, which has now seen the Black

Cats win just two of their last 15 league games at the Stadium of

Light. But his manager was left in little doubt as to the feelings

of an increasing proportion of the club’s own fans. Asked if he had

considered his position, a defiant Bruce said: “No, not at all. “I

have never given up on anything, certainly not in football anyway.

“Certainly, my intention is not to walk away or quit. That’s

certainly not in my nature either. “There’s something in me which

says I will try to turn it around. “We are finding it very, very

difficult at the moment. Patience in football doesn’t last very

long, but as far as my future is concerned, that’s up to others.

“Certainly I have got no intention of walking away or trying to

quit or anything like that. It’s certainly not in my nature. “In

terms of sticking with it and staying at it, I am certainly more

determined that ever to see it through because I don’t think we are

that far away.” Bruce’s Tyneside roots remain a source of disquiet

for some sections of the Black Cats’ fans, and he admitted there is

nothing he can do about that. He said: “It borders on abuse, but I

can’t help where I was born. When it gets like it is it’s

disappointing to hear, of course. “But I am a resilient so and so

and I have had stick all my life and come through it, certainly in

football anyway.” The game could hardly have started much more

positively for Sunderland, who went ahead with just eight minutes

gone when, after goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi had fumbled Nicklas

Bendtner’s shot, Sebastian Larsson fired home from close range. But

Al-Habsi then pulled off a series of fine saves to deny Kieran

Richardson, Wes Brown, Larsson, Phil Bardsley and John O’Shea with

the Black Cats threatening to run riot. However, the Latics were

back in it a minute before the break when referee Kevin Friend

awarded a penalty for Larsson’s challenge on Victor Moses, despite

the Swede’s protests, and Jordi Gomez converted it. Wigan were much

improved after the break, although the game looked to be heading

for a draw until a dramatic conclusion. Substitute James McArthur

caught Wes Brown in possession three minutes into injury time and

then squared for fellow newcomer Di Santo to slide the ball into an

empty net. After seeing his side end a run of eight successive

league defeats with a draw against Blackburn last weekend, Wigan

manager Roberto Martinez was delighted with the result. He said:

“It’s a great example of why we are so hooked on football. It’s a

contrast of emotions. “Seven days ago, we were probably on the

floor as bad as you can feel, and today we are really, really

delighted. We are feeling the opposite end. “I’m delighted we have

been able to get that victory.” However, the Spaniard admitted he

was holding his breath as Di Santo snatched victory, expecting the

misfortune which has dogged the club’s season to strike again. He

said: “I expected it to be offside. With the bad luck we have been

having, I expected the flag to go up.” The win will have done much

to make chairman Dave Whelan’s day as he enjoyed a break in

Barbados. Martinez said: “He was a bit upset last week. I’m glad we

won, otherwise I think he would have been making a few phone calls

on the way back.”