SUNDERLAND need to make the Stadium of Light a fortress again if the club is to prosper, says Steve Bruce.
The Black Cats’ boss is conscious of the fact that Sunderland are struggling for traction this season, and struggling for consistency.
But he says they can begin tackling that problem by building up the sort of home form again which was the cornerstone of his early success on Wearside.
“We got a great win against Stoke last week and that was a reminder of how good the Stadium of Light can be when the team produces at home,” said Bruce, who is determined to get back on track at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, following Monday’s reverse at Norwich.
“There was a definite feel-good factor around the place after the 4-0 win and we need more of that.”
Sunderland have won just three home games in the calendar year – Blackburn on New Year’s Day, Wigan in April and Stoke this month.
But that’s in contrast to Sunderland’s form in the first half of last season, when they didn’t lose at home until Blackpool’s unlikely victory just before the turn of the year.
They took 20 points out of 33 in that run, including victories over Manchester City, Aston Villa, West Ham, Bolton and Stoke.
That was the sort of form which kept Sunderland sixth for months last season and put them in a position where they could achieve a top 10 finish.
In the previous season, Sunderland’s home form was Bruce’s strength.
The Wearsiders lost only two home games in 2010 in the Premier League and, in the manager’s first season, home form was the club’s saviour – at one stage the Black Cats had a seven-game home burst in which they won five and drew two.
And it is that sort of form which Bruce says Sunderland need to get back to now.
“We’’ve had a strange time of things,” he said. “Our home form used to be our strength and we barely lost in a year, but we couldn’t get a win away from home.
“Then we turned it around to the point where our away record was good but our home form fell away.
“I think the bottom line for any Premier League side is that if you want to do well then you have to take care of your home form.
“We didn’t make the best of starts to the season in that direction, but we got an excellent win against Stoke City and if we can build on that – and there’s no reason why we can’t – then we can start turning things around.
“The Stoke result was a start. It was a good win. An important win. But we need to look to get back-to-back victories and start making the Stadium of Light a place that teams don’t like coming to again.”