Steve Bruce was satisfied to end an up-and-down season for Sunderland with a top-10 finish after beating West Ham 3-0 on Sunday.Sunderland were on course for Europa League place after a flying start to the season, which included a 3-0 win away to Chelsea.
But a succession of injuries to first-team players, coupled with the departure of striker Darren Bent in the January transfer window, resulted in a dire loss of form in the second half of the season.
But two wins from the last two matches sees Sunderland sneak into the top half of the table, albeit on goal difference.
“I’m delighted for us and all Sunderland fans. We set out to be in the top 10 and we’ve had a pretty awful three months,” Bruce said.
“We’ve put in back-to-back victories away from home, I thought we were well worth it today, and to go up four places, to finish above Newcastle for the third time in the last three years is obviously very pleasing for the supporters.”
“To finish in the top 10, for the third time in 55 years I believe, shows we’ve made a bit of progress and the next step is can we keep improving?”
“We’ve been badly injured and badly hampered by the loss of key players but to finish in the top 10 is very, very pleasing. I’m delighted for the club.”
West Ham came into the match at Upton Park with their relegation to the Championship already confirmed.
Avram Grant was dismissed immediately after their defeat to Wigan last week, leaving first-team coach Kevin Keen to take charge against Sunderland.
Despite overseeing a comprehensive home defeat, Keen insists he is the man to take the club forward.
“Yes I’d love the job,” Keen said. “My audition for the job started as soon as I got it and I think this week I’ve conducted myself quite well.”
“I love the club, I played for the club for nine years, I’ve come back and I’ve coached the club for nine years. It’s in my blood.”
“I feel I can really take the club on and contribute. I feel it is time for me to go on and become a manager.”
“If you asked the players about respect and who they’d want to take the job I think you’d get a big affirmative from the majority.”
“It’s a tough profession but I’ve been in it a long time and I feel I’ve got the attributes to take the club forward.”
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