Steve Bruce has insisted the criticism which came his way after Sunderland's disappointing start to the season was "water off a duck's back".
The 50-year-old found himself under intense pressure, from outside the club at least, as the Black Cats went five games without a victory and scored only two goals. Some commentators even suggested that last Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with Stoke could prove pivotal for Bruce after another summer of significant change on Wearside.
In the event, a resounding 4-0 victory over Tony Pulis' side was just what was needed, and the days which have followed have seen the smile return to Bruce's face. He said: "It's a bit easier. Hurt is the wrong word, I suppose. I get disappointed for the ones around me who care a little bit about me."
Bruce added: "It hurts them more than it hurts me. I have been in it a long time. It becomes water off a duck's back. I couldn't quite get to grips with the intensity of it so soon, but there you go."
However, Bruce has been in the game long enough to know that the respite may last only as long as the positive results continue, the occupational hazard of modern football management.
He said: "Pressure? We are always under pressure. There are only so many Premier League managers and it was my turn. There would probably be 19 others delighted it was my turn.
"We need to go and win on Monday and then probably the attention will focus on somebody else who is unfortunately having a tough time at that particular moment."
Monday night will see Bruce return to familiar territory as he takes his team to Norwich, where he played with such distinction to win his move to Old Trafford. Such are the vagaries of his job that should the Black Cats win at Carrow Road, they will have enjoyed a better start to their league campaign than they did 12 months ago.
Bruce said: "It just shows you what it is. I can't stop that, unfortunately. That's why I scratched my head for a few weeks. It's quite incredible, but that's the way it is, it's the way it is managing here.
"It surprised me a little bit, but I wasn't too surprised that it was coming my way."
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