FAN power could be the final piece in the jigsaw for Sunderland this weekend, says Steve Bruce.
The Black Cats’ boss believes that the backing of fans in what is likely to be a feisty encounter at the Stadium of Light this weekend could have a bearing on the outcome of the game as Sunderland look to deliver back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since the start of the year.
But he says that first and foremost, his players have to give the supporters something to cheer about.
“It’s a game which is a potentially very important one to us in the context of the season,” he told the Echo. “And I think it’s one of those where the supporters have their part to play.
“It’s likely to have a bit of a tasty atmosphere about it anyway, with Darren Bent making his return and I won’t mind at all if there’s a great atmosphere for the game because it can only help us.
“I know the players are up for it.
“After the Bolton game we’ve had a very positive week in training and I know that they want to keep that going beyond this weekend.
“They know they have to go out there and try to get that win which will really improve our position in terms of how the league looks.
“And I think the backing of the fans tomorrow is going to be a big help.
“The fans were absolutely magnificent at Bolton last week, taking up one end of the ground and being heard all the way through the game.
“They played their part in keeping us going to the end and it was a bonus for our players that they were kicking towards the goal behind which our fans were gathered.
“This weekend we’ve got the Stadium of Light behind us and I know that when they get behind us we’re a force at home.
“We went through a spell, shortly after I got here, of going something like a year unbeaten at home and the fans were a factor in that.
“It has been a tricky start to the season for us but I think that there’s been a better feeling around the place after the Bolton result and the fans will up for this game too.
“We need them to get behind the lads and roar them on and stick with us if the going gets tough.
“If there’s one positive from going two goals down at home against West Brom recently – and I think this is probably the only positive – it’s that we showed that we could come back from that.
“The fans now know that if we concede a goal at home it’s not the end of the world.
“Against West Brom they backed us when the going was tough and we got our reward.
“And I hope that with their full backing again this weekend we’ll be able to get the result we all want.
“Aston Villa are a big name, a big club and it’s an exciting fixture.
“I hope it’s a game that everyone enjoys – but most of all I am hoping it’s a game that sees us put back-to-back wins together for the first time this season.
“We got our first away win last week, it would be nice to string together two wins in a row this week.”