STEVE Bruce says Gus Poyet has done superb work at his former club Sunderland.
Bruce bossed the Black Cats from 2009-11 and appreciates the challenges of the job more than most.
And he says the Uruguayan’s achievement since taking over the crisis-hit club four months ago today, deserves full recognition.
The Hull City boss, who steered the Tigers to an unexpected promotion last season in the wake of his sacking at Sunderland, and has a decent chance of keeping the Humberside outfit up this season has watched the Black Cats’ revival with interest.
And he said: “It’s a difficult job and you have to say that when you look at what Gus has done in the short term, he’s done a fantastic job.
“To get to a cup final and get them where they are when at one stage they looked down and out?
“Fair play to him and his staff.”
With Adam Johnson winning the January Player of the Month award and Poyet runner-up in the January Manager of the Month category, Bruce acknowledges now might not be the best time to play the Black Cats - especially with everyone on a high from the derby victory over Newcastle.
But Sunderland were also on a high from a derby win when they played Hull in November - the Wearsiders losing 1-0 to the Tigers in a game which saw Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena sent off.
And Bruce pointed out: “Sometimes you need a bit of luck when you get teams.
“If we’d got Man United three weeks ago, without Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie, it becomes that bit easier.
“Sunderland are on the crest of a wave.
“Everything’s going hunky dory for them.
“We know it’s going to be a difficult game but we’re confident we can go there and, if we play like we did against Spurs, we know we’re capable of getting a result.
“The players are the most important thing for me. They’ve got to handle the occasion and the atmosphere.
“If it’s all geared at me, fantastic. Bring it on.
“It can work like that. If all the focus is on me, the players can just go out and do their jobs and I have a sneaky suspicion it’ll be a little bit more hostile than at Newcastle.”