IT would be a cold-hearted sports journalist who begrudged Steve Bruce’s decision to swerve the post-match Press conference with the print media after yesterday’s 4-0 drubbing of Stoke City.
The Sunderland boss is usually affability itself, win, lose or draw, with the gentlemen of the Press.
But the events of the past few weeks have most definitely put him under real strain and yesterday he was a no-show, sending assistant Eric Black up in his place.
Bruce suspects that newspapers, far from reflecting anger and frustration on the terraces, have only served to fans the flames at best, or mischief-make at worst.
“The mass hysteria that has engulfed us for the last two weeks after the defeat against Newcastle has surprised me,” he said.
“We finished 10th last season, but we lose against Newcastle and all hell breaks loose.
“We’ve picked up five points and these two weeks have been incredible by the media.
“Fans are fed by the media, but when they are writing this nonsense – one had me gone in 48 hours – some of the journalists have to look at themselves.
“I’ve had stick all my life, but you don’t become immune to the frenzy.”
In truth, the manager was only half-right about the flak he’s received.
Some of it was certainly unmerited. Much of it could be construed as unfair. But the fact remains that a derby defeat at the Stadium of Light on the back of seven home defeats in the preceding eight games was always going to bring him no end of grief – media manufactured or not.
When the going got tough though, Sunderland got going, delivering from the opening whistle yesterday and forcing two goals home inside the first dozen minutes.
“If you get off to a good start in the Premier League and if you score first then 80 per cent of the time you win,” Bruce pointed out, before re-iterating his belief that he and his players are on the right track despite a difficult opening few weeks.
“Nothing will derail me from the job of competing around the top 10,” he said.
“And given my squad, and a bit of time, I’m confident we can do that.”