We must take care of lesser side says Bruce

SUNDERLAND showed once again at the weekend that they can mix it with the big boys, but Steve Bruce says now they must show they can take care of the bread and butter sides too.

The Black Cats have faced Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United in rapid succession, and emerged unbeaten with six points taken out of a potential 12.

For Bruce, it is a run of fixtures he's glad to see the back of.

But he also knows that those good displays will count for little if Sunderland don't perform equally as well against the teams in the middle and the bottom of the division.

"I've come away from the Manchester United game feeling a little bit disappointed that we haven't won it," he observed.

"But the pleasing thing for me is that after a really tough run of fixtures, we've kept on picking up points.

"We go into the break in good shape in the table when we could have been down there near the bottom.

"The big test for us will be the games against the lesser sides.

"It's a test for the supporters too, who were absolutely magnificent in the backing they gave us against United. We need them like that in every game because it's a big help.

"So we as a team have a responsibility to make sure we give them something to shout about, give them a display they can get behind. Overall, we've done that so far.

"The West Brom display is the only one I've been unhappy with. The Birmingham and Wigan games weren't won, I think, because we were reduced to 10 men.

"But I would happily have taken eight points from the first seven games, given the teams we were playing against.

"We are a young side and a naive one at times, but the signs are looking good.

"You just hope they all come back from the international games in the next few days OK, but in that respect we're probably helped by the fact that we've got a game on Monday rather than the weekend."