STEVE Bruce was this evening sacked as Sunderland manager after just over two and a half years in charge of the club.
The Black Cats boss had hoped he would be allowed the chance to turn things around after the club’s morale-sapping defeat to Wigan last weekend capped what has been a poor start to the season both in terms of performances and results.
He was planning for this Sunday’s game against Wolves with one eye on the next home game against Blackburn Rovers but was relieved of his duties by owner Ellis Short this afternoon.
Short released a statement said: “This has been a difficult time for everyone at Sunderland and is not a situation that any of us envisaged or expected to be in.
“It is my job as chairman to act in the best interests of our football club at all times and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that I have taken lightly.
“Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change.
“Steve has acted with honesty and integrity throughout, which is testament to the character and commitment he has shown during his time at Sunderland.
“I would like to personally place on record my thanks to him for his significant contribution to our football club over the past two and a half years and everyone here at Sunderland naturally wishes him the very best for the future.
“I would also like to thank our fans, who have endured a trying start to the season. Their support continues to be the driving force behind our Club and is vital as we now look to the future.”
With Bruce gone, assistant manager Eric Black will take charge of first team duties for the immediate future and will be in the dug-out for the game against Wolves this Sunday.
The search for a successor has begun immediately and though Martin O’Neill has been installed as the bookies’ favourite, a strong sources suggests Mark Hughes is travelling up to the North East for an interview tomorrow.