STEVE Bruce insists there will be no let-up in his quest to continue taking Sunderland to the next level.
And, in the wake of the Black Cats’ first top-half Premier League finish in a decade, he know that will mean pushing chairman Niall Quinn and owner Ellis Short – whom he will meet soon – to supply the finances to progress the job.
A figure of £50million has been bandied about as Bruce’s two-year spend so far in charge of the Black Cats.
But he would point out that the £24m sale of Darren Bent, £8m sale of Kenwyne Jones and £3m sale of Martyn Waghorn has certainly helped balance the books.
And this summer he will be hoping the purse strings will be loosened further to help the Black Cats move forward.
“My job is to knock on the owner’s door,” he shrugged after yesterday’s 3-0 success at West Ham completed a five-game unbeaten run in London this season.
“That’s what I’m employed to do and that’s what I’ll be doing, because there’s no doubt there’s a lot of work has to be done on the squad.
“Four of our five loan players are returning to their clubs and their futures have yet to be resolved one way or another – meanwhile we’ve lost half-a-dozen players to quite long-term injuries.
“So rebuilding is going to have to be done to make sure we have the strength to compete next season.
“As a club, we’ll enjoy the next couple of days, we’ll enjoy the next week.
“But we’ve still got a lot of work to do and it’s my job to ask for more from the chairman and the manager.”
When Bruce does sit down at the negotiating table with Quinn and Short this week, he can at least point to the final day of the season vindicating his judgment.
“It’s great to finish in the top half and above Newcastle, but I wish we hadn’t had to wait until the last day of the season to do it,” he said. “We wouldn’t have had to if things had just worked out a little differently.
“I had the nucleus of a top young team and it was ripped apart, and that’s what affected us.
“We lost our best player with Darren Bent’s sale and it’s my job to make sure we get a new one if we can this summer. But I’m convinced that if we’d kept our team together and not been hit by so many injuries we would have had confirmed our place in the top 10 long before the last day.”
Bruce reiterated that Bolo Zenden is departing to get more game time elsewhere, saying: “Maybe I should have played him a little bit more.
“He’s a great pro. Sometimes footballers get knocked, and rightly so, but if everybody was like him it would make my job very, very easy. He’s a fantastic person, who I wish well.”
On loan defender John Mensah, who was not even in the matchday squad, Bruce added: “I will make that decision this week, in the cold light of day.”