Recruitment was key to Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland survival bid, says pal

Former Sunderland manager Steve Bruce

Former Sunderland manager Steve Bruce

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Sam Allardyce’s January recruitment was the key to Sunderland remaining in the Premier League, believes ex-Black Cats boss Steve Bruce.

Allardyce is beginning to plot the summer buys that can end Sunderland’s cycle of annual relegation battles, having proved his acumen in the transfer market in January with the arrival of stand-out figures Wahbi Khazri, Lamine Kone and Jan Kirchhoff.

Bruce – a good friend of Allardyce – provided the reference for the weakest of Sunderland’s January arrivals after encouraging the Black Cats manager to sign ex-Hull striker Dame N’Doye.

But the other trio proved to be major hits, with Allardyce able to maintain his record of having never been relegated from the Premier League, as he kept Sunderland in the top flight.

“He’s worked miracles again and the one thing that you have to give him a big pat on the back for is his recruitment,” Bruce told talkSPORT after his Hull side reached the Championship play-off final last night.

“His recruitment in January was key and that gets overlooked these days.

“A lot now is down to recruitment. Let’s be fair, a lot of clubs have a lot of money to spend, but where do you go and get good value?

“The beauty of Sam’s was the four or five that he brought in all made a big impact.

“They all went straight into the team and hit the ground running and I think that impetus and Sam’s style has got them over the line.

“Fair play to him. He’s done a fantastic job, but then again, I think we were all expecting that he’d get out of it.”