4 Jun 2009

Bruce takes over at Sunderland

6:34 am on 4 June 2009

Steve Bruce has returned to his native north-east as manager of English football club Sunderland, leaving Wigan Athletic to search for a replacement.

Bruce, who supported Sunderland's arch-rivals Newcastle United as a boy, has signed a three-year contract.

He takes over from interim coach Ricky Sbragia, who stood down at the end of the season after replacing Roy Keane during a campaign in which Sunderland only escaped relegation on the final day.

Bruce, who spent the bulk of his playing career at Manchester United, has managed Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan twice, Crystal Palace and Birmingham City since retiring as a player in 1999.

He guided Wigan to 11th place this season, while Sunderland finished two places above the relegation zone in 16th.

His appointment was the first significant change for Sunderland since American businessman Ellis Short assumed complete control of the club in May.

Sunderland paid Wigan an undisclosed amount in compensation for Bruce's services and both clubs praised each other for the honourable way in which the deal was done.