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Bruce appointed at Sunderland on three-year deal

Sunderland have agreed a deal for Wigan boss Steve Bruce and confirmed that the former Latics boss has signed a three-year deal at the club.

Bruce and his advisors have been on Wearside over the last two days after holding talks with chairman Niall Quinn in Ireland, and now the deal has been agreed.

After completing the prolonged negotiations, chairman Niall Quinn expressed his delight on the club's official website: "Steve will bring a professionalism and strength of character to this club that will really help to bring us forward to where we all want to be,'' he said.

''He knows more than anyone what football means to people of this region and I'm confident that he will be able to instill into our players exactly what it means to play for this football club."

The club agreed a compensation package with the 48-year-old's current club, Wigan, on Monday and it is understood Sunderland will pay the Latics less than the £3m chairman Dave Whelan was demanding at the weekend.

Bruce will be joined by his coaching team of Eric Black, Nigel Spink and ex-Sunderland striker Keith Bertschin.

That would have implications for the staff put together by his former Manchester United team-mate Roy Keane.

However, Ricky Sbragia has been promised a job for life at the club by Quinn after stepping in to plug the gap left by Keane when he resigned in December.

The chairman hinted in the wake of Sbragia's decision to stand down as manager after the final game of the season that the Scot's future role could be in the area of player recruitment.

That too will be one of Bruce's first concerns as he attempts to build a side capable of challenging for the Premier League's top 10 after a disappointing second campaign back in the top flight.

The Wearsiders survived by just two points and won only nine games despite investing almost £80m in their squad in the two years since they won promotion.

New owner Ellis Short has promised to bankroll another recruitment drive, but is insisting on value for money.

The club has already been linked with moves for Tottenham striker Darren Bent and Wigan's Titus Bramble, Antonio Valencia and Paul Scharner.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan feels "devastated'' by the departure of his manager.

"Everyone associated with Wigan is devastated that Steve and Eric have gone, we would be lying if we said any different,'' said Whelan. "But things can change very quickly and I have always said I would not stand in anyone's way who wishes to leave the club, as long as the terms are in the best interest of Wigan.

"What Steve has achieved here over the past 18 months has been magnificent. After a period of instability, he put the team in order and started laying the foundations for a prosperous future.

"We finished in our second-highest ever league position this season and this is something we will be looking to build upon going forward.''

Whelan's most important job now is to get the right man to take over.

He has already approached Swansea to speak to their highly-rated manager Roberto Martinez but was taken aback by the £2million-plus compensation fee demanded by the south Wales club.

However, that does not mean Whelan, a successful businessman, will not negotiate hard if he feels the Spaniard is the best candidate.

Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins admits the two parties are "miles apart'' in their valuation of the 35-year-old former Wigan player.

"Wigan asked for permission to speak to Roberto. They asked what compensation we would be looking for and we talked about different figures,'' he told the Press Association.

"I told them what I valued Roberto at and they told me what they thought - we were miles apart to say the least.

"I have not given them permission to talk to Roberto.''

Other names being linked to the vacancy include Peterborough's Darren Ferguson, who has just guided his side to promotion from League One, and former manager Paul Jewell.

Whelan hopes to be able to make inroads in his search over the next week but is conscious he cannot afford to get it wrong - as he did when he promoted Chris Hutchings from within when Jewell quit in May 2007.

"As for a new manager, we have several options to consider and we will be talking to clubs and candidates over the next seven days,'' added the Wigan chairman.

"We will not rush the appointment as it is a decision not to be taken lightly.''

Veteran goalkeeper Mike Pollitt, who signed a new one-year contract last week, admits the loss of Bruce - and his backroom staff - is a huge blow.

"It's disappointing that the gaffer is going after what he's done here but I suppose when someone is offered a job like that with the promise of a lot of money to spend, then they have to take it,'' he said.

"I'll be sad to see him go. Life goes on though and now it will be interesting to see who comes in.''

Pollitt would welcome the return of Jewell, whom he played under previously at the club, but admits someone like Martinez could shake things up.

"I got on well with Paul here the first time and I think he'd do a good job,'' he told the Wigan Evening Post. "Roberto Martinez would be an interesting one, totally different to what we've had before. He's had Swansea playing with a bit of Spanish flair and likes good football.''

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