STEVE BRUCE admits he sympathised with Avram Grant after the sacked West Ham boss paid the price for relegation.
First-team coach Kevin Keen will take temporary charge of the Hammers for Sunday’s visit of Sunderland after Grant was dismissed within minutes of defeat at Wigan last weekend.
Owners David Gold and David Sullivan are confident of finding a replacement before the end of the month, with Grant lasting just a year in the Upton Park hotseat.
But Sunderland boss Bruce, who worked under Gold and Sullivan at Birmingham, believes it is another example of managers needing time to bring success.
Bruce said: “It’s sad for me when you see someone lose their job.
“We all know how difficult it is and I think Avram’s shown remarkable dignity.
“He’s taken it on the chin and realised he would ultimately be judged on results. He’s gone down with his head held high.
“Sir Alex (Ferguson) sits at the top of the tree and to be there for 25 years is remarkable.
“But when you look underneath that, Arsenal and Everton have people who understand that you have a run in the Premier League when you struggle.
“Tottenham only won their first game in six at Liverpool and Arsenal have only won one in six.
“That’s how difficult a league it is and if you don’t have your big players week-in, week-out, it smacks of trouble for you.”
Bruce has come under fire himself during Sunderland’s post-January slump.
Chairman Niall Quinn and owner Ellis Short have remained supportive of Bruce, with Sunderland hamstrung by a horrific injury list.
But Bruce knows he can’t count on that support forever and accepts results need to see an upturn next season.
“I think 90 per cent of the supporters will be like me, we’re all not happy with what has happened over the last few weeks,” said Bruce.
“Yes, Ellis Short is disappointed and I’m sure Niall Quinn is.
“But there’s nobody more disappointed than I am, because for so long in the season we were going along fantastically well.
“All of a sudden we’ve collapsed, which is the hardest thing to take.
“If we hadn’t had such a good six months, we might have accepted it.
“There’s a feeling of what might have been.
“It’s all right having a good chairman and an owner but I’ve said repeatedly, I can’t take that for granted.
“Ultimately it’s results and supporters which keep you in a job.
“I’ve been in it 10 years and I know the pitfalls of it.”