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Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers finds it hard to believe that Steve Bruce is a man under pressure, but hopes the Sunderland boss will find little solace at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

The Black Cats and the Swans have identical records having drawn one and lost one of their two Premier League games to date, while both clubs made embarrassing Carling Cup exits at the hands of Brighton and Shrewsbury in midweek.

Bruce has been backed in the transfer market by chairman Niall Quinn and has brought 10 players to the Stadium of Light during the course of the summer.

But last weekend's derby defeat to Newcastle, the cup exit to Brighton and a poor finish to last season have already seen the gloom descend on Wearside.

Rodgers has some empathy for Bruce's plight, with some suggesting Saturday's meeting is a must-win for the Northern Irishman as away fixtures at Arsenal and Chelsea loom large on the horizon, particularly given the season is still in its formative stage.

He said: "The season has hardly begun, we are only two games in, there are 36 to go.

"We know every game is a pressure game as a manager at this level. You look to win every game and if you don't get the positive result, you look to the next one.

"But the thing is if you get a win on Saturday you have that feel-good factor for a couple of weeks (during the international break) which is great as a player and a manager.

"But at this stage he will only be focused on doing his job. We all understand the pressures of the job and you are open to criticism."

Defiant Sunderland boss Bruce is plotting a path through the "mass hysteria" which has engulfed his club during an intensely difficult week.

Even native north-easterner Bruce has been stunned by the reaction to last Saturday's 1-0 defeat by arch-rivals Newcastle, which was followed by a premature Carling Cup exit at the hands of npower Championship Brighton.

The most vociferous of the 50-year-old manager's critics have been calling for his head, with another derby failure in particular proving immensely damaging in the eyes of supporters still smarting at last season's 5-1 reverse on Tyneside.

However, Bruce, who continues to enjoy the support of owner Ellis Short and chairman Niall Quinn, is ready to come out fighting as he looks for a first victory of the season on Saturday.

He said: "It engulfs you with two results, which I find disappointing. But I have to accept it and realise that's the way it is up here and I am not going to change it.

"That's why loads of managers have probably sat here and struggled and found it difficult because of what engulfs you straight away.

"It shows you how difficult it is up here. The mass hysteria, I find some of it pathetic, to be honest.

"But then again, you come to expect it. It's two games, and nobody is going to tell me in that Newcastle game that they were far better than us. They weren't.

"We made a mistake for the goal and were punished for it. I have seen the game three times over and nobody is going to tell me that we didn't deserve any better.

"We deserved to get something out of the game. That's how it was."

It is perhaps the 10 summers signings which has brought results into even sharper focus, with an encouraging opening-day draw at Liverpool now a distant memory.

However, Bruce is refusing to be bowed as he attempts to implement the latest phase of his plan for long-term success.

He said: "It's unfortunately part of where we play football here in the north-east.

"Some of it, in my opinion, has been unjust and unfair, but we have to live with that and accept the criticism.

"But I know for a fact I am not going to be derailed from what we are trying to do and what we are trying to achieve.

"We are an inch away from it as far as I am concerned and if we add a bit more firepower, we have got the nucleus of a very, very good squad."

Strikers Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won were among Sunderland's summer recruits, but the club's only goal to date came from midfielder Sebastien Larsson at Anfield with the two newcomers having been used only as substitutes to date.

Meanwhile, John O'Shea will make a competitive debut for the club at the Liberty Stadium after shaking off a hamstring injury.

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

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John O'Shea
League Cup
Premier League
Steve Bruce
Connor Wickham

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