Steve Bruce, the Sunderland manager, is confident he still has the club's full backing despite his side's recent slide down the Premier League table. Bruce, who arrived at the Stadium of Light last June, enjoyed success at the start of the season as his team won five of their first nine league games to foster hopes on Wearside of a possible run at the European places. However, just one win since November has meant the Black Cats sit 13th in the table and three points away from the relegation places as they visit Arsenal today.
Bruce acknowledges such a prolonged loss of form brings extra scrutiny but is unmoved in his belief that the club's hierarchy are wholly behind him. "I understand [the pressure]. I'm six months into the job and you do hope you are given time," he said. "I said at the start I hope that the people I work for, and I'm truly convinced they are, are sensible enough to say 'hang on a minute let's judge the fella and give him a bit of time'.
"We need to win a game but I'm the same manager that got the club off to the best start in 35 years. "Now we are on an awful run - it can happen, this is the Premier League." Sunderland's last league victory came thanks to a 1-0 win over Arsenal at the Stadium of Light nearly three months ago, and with his side preparing for the return fixture at the Emirates on Saturday, Bruce is keenly aware of the need for a positive result.
"The way football is now it is my turn at the minute, we haven't won in 12 games and it is there for everybody to see," he said. "In those 12 we have drawn six so we've been close, we've conceded four times in the last five minutes and that has cost us. "I hope we can go and play the way I know we can play and if we can get a positive result at Arsenal it will give everybody a lift." Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has backed young goalkeeper ukasz Fabianski following his two mistakes in the 2-1 Champions League defeat at Porto in midweek.
"He will be a great goalkeeper. He had an unlucky night. Every goalkeeper who had a great career has had a night like that," said Wenger. "We have to show support to him and solidarity. It is a good opportunity for us to show that we are a special club and have a special togetherness. I believe in the keepers I have." email@example.com Arsenal v Sunderland, KO 7pm, Show Shasha