Bruce demands further improvement

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Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will not be happy until he can dismiss a poor performance as a blip.

The Black Cats fought back from a 2-0 deficit against West Ham at the weekend to snatch a draw and take their tally for the season to 17 points from 11 games and - while that represents a promising start for the new manager - Bruce is challenging his players to repeat it in their next 11 fixtures to pave the way for genuine progress.

He told his side's official website: "The campaign is a long one and it's not just going to happen where we turn ourselves into European contenders overnight - this club has only been two years out of the Championship. There's still a lot of work and a lot of improvement to do until we get to a point where we can say it's a blip if we play poorly."

He added: "We have got to look at it this way - can we do the same over the next 11 games? Can we pick up another 17 points?

"If we do that, we will have a decent platform for a decent season."

Saturday's recovery ensured that only Chelsea have left the Stadium of Light with all three points this season, with Blackburn, Hull, Wolves and Liverpool all having lost on Wearside.

The Black Cats succumbed on their own pitch on no fewer than 10 occasions last season, and that turn-around has pleased the manager as much as anything.

He said: "The most important thing is doing it in front of our own fans, and that's what we knew we needed to do this year.

"People were telling me the best performances last season were away from home, but now I think the fans have realised there's been an improvement and they can understand and enjoy what we are trying to do on the pitch.

"The players deserve a pat on the back because we have lost once - against Chelsea - and that's a decent return."

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Blackburn Rovers
Premier League
Steve Bruce
Hull City
Wolverhampton Wanderers

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