Steve Bruce: Aston Villa result better than performance
Steve Bruce admitted the result was better than the performance after promotion-chasing Villa eased past struggling Sunderland.
Strikes from Lewis Grabban, James Chester and a Bryan Oviedo own goal saw Villa cruise to a 3-0 victory at the Stadium of Light against the Championship’s bottom club.
The result moved Bruce’s men within seven points of leaders Wolves, though they remain four behind second-placed Cardiff.
And the boss admitted his team can do much better.
“We didn’t play well,” said Bruce. “We were nowhere near where we have been playing. We were sloppy and gave the ball away too cheaply.
“The first goal was always going to be big.
“We have won nine out of 11 and teams are still above us. Fulham and Cardiff are having good runs too. It is all to play for.”
Villa were boosted by the return of Albert Adomah and Jack Grealish from injury, though Glenn Whelan is set for a scan after being forced off in the second half with a calf problem.
Bruce said: “I thought Glenn was our best player up until he got injured, has badly pulled a calf.
“That’s the downside of the game. For him to come off and limp like that, then it’s got to be something severe, so we’re not expecting good news.
“We’ll not know the severity until the scans.
“It was vital for us to get Jack back - he’s been out for a month, Adomah has been out for a month.
“Grealish, Adomah, Taylor have all got half an hour or more under their belts which is good.”
Sunderland remain rooted to the bottom of the table and Bruce was frequently booed on his return to a club he managed between 2009 and 2011.
He said: “I take no pleasure in seeing it the way it is. Villa were the same for four or five years.
“The club needs pointing in the right direction and a change at the very top.”