STEVE Bruce says he will face one of his toughest managerial opponents of the season tomorrow when he comes up against West Brom boss Roy Hodgson.
The Albion manager flopped at previous club Liverpool and left Anfield barely halfway through his debut season on Merseyside after failing to revive one of the game’s great names.
But Bruce says the 63-year-old remains one of the shrewdest managers in the business.
“He’s done a fantastic job at Albion so far and he’ll have a game plan at how to beat us at the weekend which will probably involve planning to keep our crowd quiet early on and hope to turn,” said the Sunderland boss.
“He’s an experienced manager, he didn’t seem to have any luck at Liverpool, it didn’t quite happen for him there.
“But he has gone to West Brom and turned them round in the space of a couple of months.”
Albion’s fortunes have risen in direct contrast to Sunderland’s decline – the Black Cats taking one point from the last seven games; Albion unbeaten in Hodgson’s first seven games.
And Bruce admits that the job his rival has done at the Hawthorns is impressive.
“It’s incredible what he has done there,” he said. “Up until six weeks ago, in most people’s eyes, they were on the verge of going but Roy has turned them round and given them a fighting chance.
“He’s made them very difficult to beat and he’s put his stamp on them.
“They will be difficult opponents – they have good players, they come to us on the back of beating Liverpool and they are unbeaten in six games, which is no mean feat in the Premier League.
“It’s all to play for but I know that if we produce the kind of performance we are capable of at home, we have the firepower to beat them.”