Steve Bruce hungry to get one over on old pal Sir Alex Ferguson
Steve Bruce will return to Old Trafford on Boxing Day hoping his Sunderland team can repeat their heroics at Chelsea to end a 42-year drought.
The former Manchester United defender will go head-to-head with Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who bought him and appointed him captain as he built the first side of his Red Devils dynasty, still waiting for his maiden win over him as a manager.
Bruce came mightily close last season when an injury-time Anton Ferdinand own goal robbed the Black Cats of a famous Barclays Premier League victory in the red half of Manchester, and he had to settle for a creditable 2-2 draw.
However, having taken the Wearsiders to Stamford Bridge already this season and left with a stunning 3-0 win, he will return to familiar territory determined to serve up a repeat performance.
Bruce said: “I have tried hard and not had one yet, and we will keep trying. To be fair, there are a few managers out there who have probably witnessed it — certainly nobody has beaten them this year, have they? We know what to expect, it will be difficult. But I always enjoy going back, even if I do come back with my backside kicked.
“For me, a lot of teams are beaten in the tunnel. You must, must go and take part in the game; you must go and have the courage to take the ball and take them on, and if you do that, then you have got a chance.
“Even then, you have still got to play to your maximum. Let's be fair, they don't lose many at home. But it's a great place to go and play. If you have anything about you at all, these are the games that you should enjoy playing in.
“Seventy-odd thousand at Old Trafford — fantastic, that's what you play football for and that's where you can go and show your skills. Last year, we played very well. To be fair, we have played very well at home against them twice as well, so let's hope we can maintain it.”
Sunderland last won at United in May, 1968 and have not beaten United anywhere in 14 attempts since a 2-1 League Cup victory at the Stadium of Light — the only one to date at their new home — in November, 2000.
If they are to address that situation, they will have to do so against the odds with no fewer than seven first-team players unavailable to Bruce.
Danny Welbeck is ineligible under the terms of his loan agreement with United, while skipper Lee Cattermole is suspended and Titus Bramble, Michael Turner, John Mensah, Fraizer Campbell and David Meyler are injured.
Ferguson's men currently top the table despite having their recent league programme severely disrupted by the weather, although Bruce laughed off suggestions that their form in general, and that of striker Wayne Rooney in particular, should be a concern for their manager.
He said: “The last time I saw him, he looked like Wayne Rooney again which, if I am being truthful, we all like to see.”