Sunderland’s crowds have shocked Wes Brown and John O’Shea, Steve Bruce claims, as the two former Manchester United stars settle into life in the North East.
O’Shea and Brown both signed for Sunderland in the summer transfer window, and have endured a mixed start to the season with the Black Cats producing some inconsistent form.
And while they continue to gel with the fresh-faced squad, Bruce revealed that the town’s attitude to their football club and the frenzy surrounding games has come as a surprise, despite the pair playing for one of the biggest teams in the world before their moves.
“The intensity even shocks them. They are saying ‘why, what is the problem, OK we have had a bad start but why is it like it is at the moment, the frenzy,’” Bruce said.
“We had a bad run last year but we finished tenth, so we must have had some parts of the season OK.
“We finished tenth, but there is this frenzy which engulfs the North East.
“Even those players who have played in front of 70,000-plus crowds 400 times can see how difficult it can be.
“There is the expectation here of a huge, huge, club. It resembles a club which has won the Champions League or the Premier League or the FA Cup, like an Arsenal, a Man United, a Chelsea, a Liverpool. We have a similar expectation here.
“It comes from the area and the size of the crowds we get repeatedly. It is terrific for the North East.”
Sunderland are currently sitting 16th in the Barclays Premier League table, and face Arsenal at the Emirates after the international break. The side will be relying heavily on their away crowd to provide the support needed to get their season back on track and establish a position in the top half of the table.