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Match 22
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Bruce vows to fight on

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is determined to turn around the club's form as rumours grow that he is set to become the first managerial casualty of the Premier League season.

• Quinn: Bruce will be given time
• Quinn steps down

Sunderland are currently 16th in the table, a point outside the relegation zone, and have won just one game from their first seven. They also exited the Carling Cup in the second round with a 1-0 defeat at Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion.

Bruce's position was weakened last week as acolyte Niall Quinn stepped down from his role as chariman to "spearhead international development on behalf of the club". Owner Ellis Short has now assumed that position but it is thought he is not as supportive of the manager.

The odds on Bruce to be the first sacking of the campaign shortened over the weekend following press speculation regarding his future, with some bookmakers he is now the favourite for the chop ahead of Blackburn boss Steve Kean. Reports claimed Martin O'Neill was being lined up to replace Bruce.

Bruce's task does not get much easier on Sunday when he takes his side to take on Arsenal, another club with many problems. That is followed by what already looks like a significant fixture at the foot of the table when Sunderland visit Bolton.

Bruce told the Northern Echo: "I hope that people still have faith in me. I know people will be questioning me, of course they are. But I'm a determined, resilient, horrible so-and-so and I will try my utmost to turn it around.

"I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I'm not going to put up the white flag now. I knew what it would be like and the challenge is still the same for me - can we get a team together that mount a sustained challenge in the top 10?''

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