Steve Bruce returned to his native north-east as manager of Sunderland on Wednesday, leaving Wigan Athletic to search for a replacement. Bruce, 48, who supported Sunderland's arch-rivals Newcastle United as a boy, has signed a three-year contract, the club said. He takes over from interim coach Ricky Sbragia, who stood down at the end of the season after replacing Roy Keane during a campaign in which Sunderland only escaped relegation on the final day. Bruce, who spent the bulk of his playing career at Manchester United, has managed Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan twice, Crystal Palace and Birmingham City since retiring as a player in 1999. He guided Wigan to 11th place this season, while Sunderland finished two places above the relegation zone in 16th. His appointment was the first significant change for Sunderland since American businessman Ellis Short assumed complete control of the club in May. "It's the perfect time, I've worked 10 or 11 years in management for an opportunity at a club like this one," Bruce told a televised news conference at Sunderland's academy. "You are always looking for a big challenge and to take the next step and this is the perfect step for me and I can't wait to get started. "This is what I've always wanted. A big club with a big challenge and a huge ambition and it's up to me know to put a team on the pitch to take the club forward." Chairman Niall Quinn said: "He's going to bring a vital ingredient that I think has been missing at our club and that's a mentality and a strength that will drive us to where we need to be. "He knows all too well what football means to this region. Throughout his playing and managerial career he epitomised what it means to be a football person from the north-east and I look forward to our club representing those values on the pitch. "If we can get the steel into our dressing room that Steve brings I think it will bring rewards for our club." Sunderland paid Wigan an undisclosed amount in compensation for Bruce's services and both clubs praised each other for the honourable way in which the deal was done. "Niall is a perfect gentleman. I believe in football and in life if someone wants to work with you that's fine, but if they want to work for someone else, you have to respect that," Wigan owner Dave Whelan told Sky Sports News. "Steve has done a fantastic job for Wigan and we wish him every success at the Stadium of Light." Whelan said his first choice would be Roberto Martinez, who was at Wigan for six years as a player and is now manager of Swansea City in the Championship. SUNDERLAND FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Boy's A Bit Special Anthony Stokes Ask A Silly Question Peter Reid What Happened Next? Marco Gabbiadini Plus! Nyron Nosworthy on Weekend Wonders and Sunderland on Talentspotter WIGAN FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: My Secret Vice Jimmy Bullard Plus! Rate Wigan players (and others) on Talentspotter
3 June 2009
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