Sunderland assistant boss Eric Black launched a stout defence of manager Steve Bruce after seeing his side cruise past Stoke to claim their first win of the season.
The Black Cats, who had scored only twice in five games in all competitions before kick-off, rattled in four unanswered goals against the Potters to claim just their third home win in the Barclays Premier League this calendar year.
Bruce chose to send out number two Black to conduct the post-match press conference, and he revealed how tough the last few weeks has been on the manager. Black said: "It hurts him. People think he is this big, robust character, but it hurts him when he doesn't win."
He added: "He's a winner, he always has been and he will always be that way, so it hurts him when it doesn't go the way he wants it.
"Sometimes, I think the criticism is unfair, I would have to say in my opinion, it is unfair because he works hard and he puts decent teams together.
"But such is life. That's the pressure of managing in the Premier League.
"It's nice to get a victory. Any victory in the Premier League is great, but under the circumstances he has had to deal with personally - because he is from this area as well - I think he will be quite happy."
Perhaps significantly, Bruce fielded seven of his 11 summer signings from the start as skipper Lee Cattermole was left sitting on the bench, and David Vaughan, Larsson, John O'Shea and Wes Brown in particular stood out.
Black said: "Every team has to build and get new players into the team, but today the quality the manager has signed was there for everybody to see and hopefully, we can maintain that level of performance."
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