Steve Bruce felt the relief of taking three points from one of his rival Barclays Premier League managers, before expressing real empathy for the position Bolton Wanderers boss Sammy Lee is in.

The Birmingham City manager was impressed enough with Lee's knowledge of the game to attempt to employ him as his assistant manager three summers ago, prior to bringing in Eric Black.

Bruce admits to being astonished at the way the travelling Bolton fans turned on Lee at St Andrew's on Saturday, just six games into his managerial career as successor to Sam Allardyce.

Bruce works for a board of directors who have felt the need to change their manager only twice in 14 years, despite calls for his sacking just 11 months ago.

A year on from the sacking of Bryan Robson at West Bromwich Albion, to no lasting benefit, the Blues boss remains a great believer in the concept of continuity.

"I hope the people at Bolton give their support to Sammy because it's a tough, tough job," he said. "But Sammy has been in it long enough and he now has a fantastic assistant in Archie Knox, who will help him tremendously. The one thing he needs now is time because, six games in, a new manager walks through the door and you've got to give him a chance to prove himself.

"If you appoint somebody, then just throw them out, you're never going to be successful - not just in the Premier League, but in the Football League, too, if you look at any successful club and Bolton are one, they've got continuity.

"There's going to be bad times, of course. There have been low times for me in my six years but today we're sitting 12th in the Premier League.

"The club have stood by me and I've repaid them by being loyal, which is what you need. Then you have a chance and, let's face it, whoever replaced Big Sam was going to find it difficult. Sam did an outstanding job there and that's why he was very close to getting the England job and why he has now got one of the best jobs in the country at Newcastle United."

Just two games from earning his first success as Bolton boss, a 3-0 win over Reading, Lee is counting on Thursday night's trip to Macedonian champions Rabotnicki Kometal in the UEFA Cup as the best means of getting Wanderers' season back on course.

"I might be new to the manager's job, but I'm not exactly new to football," he said. "I've seen the highs and lows and I under-stand the pressure that comes with football, but I've got some very good people working for me and making sure we're working hard to turn it around.

"We're in a difficult position but I wouldn't want to use words like 'survival' or 'crisis', to be honest. People keep talking about the UEFA Cup as if it is a distraction but we worked very hard last season to make sure we qualified for it and I see it as another opportunity to get our season going."

"I'm a winner. I've come from a winning culture. I'm certainly no quitter. Today was the most disappointing of all the games we have played. We haven't turned up today."