STEVE Bruce will bid to inflict more relegation misery on Mick McCarthy tomorrow – eight years after sending the then Sunderland manager to the Championship.
McCarthy was unable to halt Sunderland’s slide after being appointed at the Stadium of Light with two months remaining of the 2002-03 19-point season.
But it was Bruce’s Birmingham who confirmed Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship with a 2-0 win at St Andrew’s in April, 2003.
While Sunderland cannot relegate Wolves in their final home game at the Stadium of Light tomorrow, they can make life difficult for McCarthy.
Wolves are only a point above the drop zone and defeat would leave them facing a potentially crucial clash with fellow relegation contenders Blackburn Rovers on the final day of the season.
Bruce said: “I remember that game at Birmingham – Marcus Stewart was sent off late on for Sunderland. Everyone had known for weeks that they were going down but it was losing to us that made it official.
“But it will be different tomorrow because Wolves had a terrific win at the weekend against West Brom, which lifted them out of the bottom three and gives them a fighting chance of avoiding relegation.
“It’s in their hands – they know that if they win both their remaining games, they will stay up.
“But we want to make sure that they don’t win tomorrow and that if they do stay up, they do it without beating us.”
McCarthy has won his last two games against Sunderland, although Wolves have not tasted victory on Wearside since 1993.
Bruce knows what to expect from the Yorkshireman’s side as Sunderland play a key part in the relegation battle with the Black Cats heading to basement boys West Ham on the final day.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Mick and I think a lot of the fans up here do too,” said Bruce.
“He is a genuinely decent man and when he was at this club, it was in a very different situation financially to the one it is today.
“We know what kind of team Mick will bring. He will have a team that is up-and-at-you and he will demand that they have a go – just as he did when he was a player.
“As a player he was always fiercely competitive and very hard to beat, and his Wolves team mirrors his personality.
“Everybody will know that Mick, coming back here, will want to turn us over and beat his old club.
“People might look at our last two games against Wolves and West Ham and see where those clubs are in the table and think we should beat them easily, but it isn’t necessarily so.
“They are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table and both our last two games will be very tough for that reason.”