Black Cats Bruce interest cools

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Sunderland's interest in appointing Steve Bruce as their new manager receded on Wednesday as Ellis Short's buy-out was confirmed.

On the day it was officially announced that the Irish-American businessman is to take complete control of the club in which he bought a 30% stake last year, the Black Cats took a step back in their efforts to find a replacement for Ricky Sbragia.

Wearside woke to claims that a compensation package, amounting to anywhere between £3million and £5million, which would allow Bruce to leave current club, Wigan, had already been agreed. But the Black Cats privately insisted they were nowhere near that stage, and their stance hardened as sources in the north-west prematurely claimed the Black Cats had been given permission to talk to the former Manchester United defender.

As a result, the Wearsiders, while not necessarily ruling out Bruce, are exploring alternatives having once again been inundated with applications for a job which has become even more attractive as a result of Short's decision to push through his plan to take over from the Drumaville consortium at the Stadium of Light.

However, chairman Niall Quinn has repeated his insistence that the club will take its time.

He said: "It goes without saying that the search for a new manager has started and we will take whatever time is necessary to make this important appointment. It is imperative that we find somebody who will raise the bar and introduce a whole new mentality to our dressing room."

For his part, Bruce remained diplomatic when asked about the speculation.

He told Sky Sports: "All the speculation, you can't stop that. It's flattering, but I am very, very pleased with what's happened with us and pleased with what's happening in the future, so we will see what develops."

For Quinn, however, there was cause for celebration as he hailed Short's takeover as a significant step on the road to taking the club to the next level following their ultimately successful, but nailbiting fight for Barclays Premier League survival.

He said: "This is fantastic news for the club. In going forward, as long as we invest the funds wisely, he (Short) will continue to provide what has been the missing ingredient in Sunderland's make up, namely the financial muscle necessary to compete at the highest level."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Premier League
Steve Bruce
Manchester United
Wigan Athletic

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