STEVE Bruce has called for patience from fans as he looks “to build a whole new team”.
The Sunderland manager goes into tomorrow’s game against one of the most prominent sides in world football on the back of a poor start to the season.
The Black Cats are still without a win after four games and the mood has been darkened on Wearside by an instant exit in the Carling Cup to Championship Brighton and the loss of a home derby to bitter rivals Newcastle United.
But Bruce has urged supporters to stick with him as he seeks to gel together a squad which has undergone radical change over the summer but which he is convinced will prove its worth over the course of the current campaign.
He told the Echo: “We’re a work in progress but I think the potential in the current squad is fantastic.
“We just need a little patience as we try to bring together the new arrivals because the changes have been quite dramatic and effectively we’re looking to build a whole new team.”
Bruce admitted it was something of a risky step bringing in quite so many new faces over the course of one transfer window but insists that building for the future is the right thing to do for the club.
He said: “In the first two seasons of my time here we really tried to exploit the loan system for all it was worth and I think we succeeded in doing that very well.
“We were able to bring in players of the calibre of Danny Welbeck and Nedum Onuoha and others like them that we would have not been able to buy or attract on a permanent basis at the time.
“Loan players have been a big part of what we have achieved at the club over the last couple of seasons but every time the season ends you’re faced with the same problem which is that they return to their parent clubs and are unlikely to come back.
“So we thought we needed to go down a different route this summer and look to put down the foundations of a team which would have a chance of growing and evolving together over the seasons ahead.”
Bruce says the arrival of youngsters Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won is part of that process, even though it will take some time before supporters see them emerge as genuine Premier League powers.
“That’s why we need patience,” Bruce explained. “These youngsters are going to be something, they really are. We’ve spent good money to bring them in because we know their potential and how good they can be but we need to be supportive of them and they need our backing as they develop.”