Football Expert & Columnist
Nature of the beast
Jamie Redknapp says it's wrong for Steve Bruce to be in the firing line, but results will silence his doubters.
Last Updated: 23/09/11 1:51pm
Should Steve Bruce be under pressure this early in the season? No. But unfortunately that's the way it is.
If it's not Steve Bruce, it's Arsene Wenger and if it's not Arsene Wenger it will be the next manager that has a couple of bad results.
That is the nature of the Premier League and that is the name of game for the media in this country, of which I guess I am a part. It is brutal, there is no other word for it.
Not long ago Tottenham had lost their first two games and I was driving along listening to a radio phone-in and some bloke going on about how my dad had taken them as far as he could and it was time to get someone else in.
After two games! There I was, shouting at my own car radio and half-tempted to put on a silly voice and ring up and stick up for my dad!
But that's what it's like managing in the Premier League. People want success and they want it straight away.
Sunderland were always going to be up against it early on as well. They brought in so many players over the summer that it was always going to take time to gel and no matter how good a manager you are, sometimes it clicks straight away, other times it doesn't.
There's no doubt Steve has made some smart signings, but to expect all seven or eight to go straight into the side and gel was always asking too much. But, the trouble is, spending money brings expectations as well.
It all looked good on the first day when they got a great result at Liverpool. But then they went and lost the derby game at home to Newcastle - and that is probably why Steve is under so much pressure, particularly up there in the north east.
I did hear he had stopped talking to the local media, which if it is true, is not the way I would go, I have to be honest. People are always going to say things, speculate and criticise and the only way you can stop them doing that is by winning games. Last weekend's win over Stoke should have shut people up and made the club a much happier place.
Now if they go to Norwich on Monday night and win, all of a sudden Sunderland will be looking at the top half of the table, as I am sure they were when the season started.
Mind you, when the season started, he had Asamoah Gyan to get him goals. What that lad did just staggered me.
For a start it was after our transfer window had closed, but secondly he had stayed put despite rumours all summer that he was off. Then he disappears on the morning of a game, he ups and leaves for the United Arab Emirates and the mighty Al-Ain. Well, that shows you everything about some footballers today - that money is all that matters.
I am sure his pockets are full and his bank manager is happy, but as a footballing move? Come on.
I think Steve did exactly the right thing with the boy too. If he doesn't want to be at Sunderland then he was right to let him go. And a season-long loan might just be the best thing, too: either Gyan goes out there does well and they can get decent money, or he realises what he's done, what a great club he's left and comes back, cap in hand, to Wearside, desperate to make amends.
What it has done has left them short of goals. Selling Darren Bent in January and then not getting Danny Welbeck again this season was always going to be hard to cope with, but without Gyan, the onus is going to fall on two of his summer signings.
Nicklas Bendtner has never been what you'd call prolific and Steve clearly feels that young Connor Wickham is not ready for the Premier League yet. I don't mean physically, because the lad is a big, solid unit, but maybe mentally at the age of 18, he does not quite have that edge.
Until he does, Sunderland will have to rely on the likes of Stephane Sessegnon, Sebastian Larsson and Craig Gardner to chip in with goals and they will certainly need more of the same as they got against Stoke on Sunday.
I don't think it was any coincidence that John O'Shea and Wes Brown were in that back four again. Those two will be vital to Sunderland's chances, especially while they are still trying to bed the rest in. Those two will bring a winning mentality to the side, just the same as Steve Bruce has.
And Steve is a winner as well. He's a good man and this will be hurting him, but believe me, he will be desperate to put this right. And a win at Norwich might be all it needs.