Bruce in at Sunderland
© AFP

Steve Bruce believes he can transform Sunderland into a club more familiar with the top half of the English Premier League than regular relegation dogfights.

The former Manchester United defender was finally appointed as the club's new manager on Wednesday and, after signing a three-year contract, insisted he could reciprocate the success he enjoyed at Wigan. "The aim is to take the progression forward," the 48-year-old said. "We don't want to be flirting with relegation. We want to be up where we were with Wigan."

Bruce was brought up as a fan of Sunderland's biggest rivals, Newcastle, but he does not expect that to be a barrier to him forging a bond with the Black Cats faithful. "I think they like one of their own from the north east," Bruce said. "It's results on the pitch that matter. I hope I can win over the few doubters I have. The vast majority of what I've seen is positive."

"I'm proud to sit here and be Sunderland manager. Unless you're born up here, you don't really realise what it means," he went on. "It's a working class area. It was born in me and bred in me that I only got there with hard work. I wasn't blessed with any huge ability. I got there with a bit of hard graft and a bit of determination and I want my team to mirror that.

I'm proud to sit here and be Sunderland manager. Unless you're born up here, you don't really realise what it means.
Steve Bruce on taking over as coach at Sunderland

"I'm going to give everyone a chance," the new boss went on. "I've got the chance to work with the players for a good few weeks before the transfer deadline. Whatever happened in the past, I'm not really interested in. To start with I want to give every single one of them a chance. We have some good players here and I want to have a good look."

Bruce will be joined on Wearside by coaches Eric Black, Nigel Spink and Keith Bertschin, who have agreed to follow him from Wigan. Chairman Niall Quinn expects Bruce to add some backbone to a team which only avoided relegation thanks to favourable results elsewhere on the final day of the season. "There are times - and the players would admit this - when we've been brittle," Quinn said. "We've made some giant strides and some backwards steps. I believe the thing that's been missing is steel."

The former Ireland striker expects Bruce to inject that missing ingredient into the squad. "He was top of the list, we had some very good candidates, but I think Steve is the perfect fit."