Sunderland’s poor start to the season continued yesterday with a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates.
This is Bruce’s third season in charge at the Stadium of Light, and despite being given countless backing by owner Ellis Short and Chairman Niall Quinn, it seems there has been little overall improvement on the pitch.
Now with Quinn assigned a new role in the club managing international development, Short has become club chairman leading to more scrutiny on Bruce’s delicate position.
Since his appointment in the summer of 2009, the former Manchester United defender has brought in 32 players over a two-and-a-half year period, yet the backing of the American has yet to reap a transformation in results.
After only avoiding relegation on the last day of the 2008-09 campaign under caretaker boss Ricky Sbragia, Quinn and Short turned to a man that had pushed Wigan Athletic to the brink of Europe in the same season.
Hopes were high that with a move to a big club, Bruce would evolve into the top-class manager that many believe he is capable of becoming.
However, having been given the money of Short and the excellent support of Quinn, Bruce has struggled to repay the faith, and now has the pressure growing from disgruntled supporters.
The past couple of seasons has been dogged by inconsistency, with impressive starts followed by winless runs stretching for months and dismantling any hopes of European football.
Now the Black Cats seem to be back at square one, with the team at the wrong end of the table and no obvious solutions around the corner.
Pre-season saw Bruce bring in 12 new players to add strength in depth and a more solid foundation, especially defensively with the arrivals of Manchester United duo John O’Shea and Wes Brown.
But after the departure to the UAE of a seemingly money-grabbing Gyan, Sunderland have been left with a blunt attacking force consisting mainly of on-loan Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner and young Connor Wickham.
With almost half of their goals coming in their 4-0 win over Stoke, their struggles in front of goal have made it difficult to find the consistency that Bruce has been searching for since he took charge.
What makes it more disappointing is that there is a good spine to the team. The defensive experience of O’Shea and Brown have made Sunderland tougher to break down.
While the midfield of Craig Gardner, Lee Cattermole, Sebastian Larsson and David Vaughan is a centre full of craft and tireless work-rate, not forgetting the breakthrough of impressive youngster Jack Colback.
So it’s all the more disconcerting for Sunderland fans to see another new side but with the same old disappointment, and this draws more attention to whether Bruce remains the right man for the job.
Personally, Bruce is a good manager that has had to deal with situations out of his control; the sales of Bent and Henderson were offers too good to refuse, while the actions of Gyan demonstrated the mentality of man motivated by money ahead of success.
But although there were real signs of improvement in North London yesterday, the 50 year-old needs to turn things round sooner rather than later.
He was seen as the long-term appointment, the man that would turn Sunderland from relegation candidates to top-six challengers over the course of the next few years.
Everything was in place; financial support, a huge fan base and the potential to turn a sleeping giant into a prosperous one.
Bruce still might. But if things don’t turn around quickly, then he will find that there won’t just be changes taking place at boardroom level on Wearside.
So what do you think? Is Bruce still the right man to take Sunderland forward? Will he end up justifying the long-term support of Short and Quinn? Leave a comment and let us know your views.