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Former Fulham star Malbranque settles in North East

last updated Thursday 15th April 2010, 1:30 PM
Former Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque
Former Fulham midfielder
Steed Malbranque
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Former Fulham star Steed Malbranque is a man of few words, but he was quick to pledge his future to Sunderland yesterday after hitting his best run of form in a red and white shirt.

It is a little more than a month since his manager, Steve Bruce, left out the former Fulham midfielder for breaking a curfew before the 2-0 defeat at Arsenal on February 20.

But since returning for the 4-0 victory over Bolton at the beginning of March, Malbranque has captured top form, even though eyebrows were raised when he was handed a left wing role.

His rejuvenation has been one of the main reasons for Sunderland's turnaround, lifting them clear of relegation trouble when the threat of Championship football was increasing.

His form has not gone unnoticed by Bruce either, who has been full of praise for a player whose future many expected to have been in doubt when he was punished for a breach of club discipline.

Malbranque, claiming the only thing he dislikes about the North-East is the weather, remains solely focused on trying to transform Sunderland in to a team capable of challenging for a Europa League place.

"My future is with Sunderland. I have no doubts," said Malbranque. "It's good to be in the first team but every day and every game is different.

"It's nice that I have a lot of fans behind me at Sunderland. I'm happy here, happy where I live with my family. My daughters go to school and it's all good up here. It's a little bit windy but it's OK."

In many respects Malbranque's season has mirrored that of Sunderland. He was bright in the opening few months of the campaign before stuttering through the middle and re-igniting just in time to help the team clear of trouble.

Malbranque, who rarely chooses to speak to the media, never felt the need to discuss his personal fortunes with his boss because he was always confident he would deliver again during Sunderland's 13-match winless run.

"In the two months I was playing poorly we were having poor results and we played too many long balls," said the 30-year-old. "Now we have started to play nicer football and that's better for the team.

"My form was affected during the poor period that we had as a team. The most important thing is that I'm back in good form and that is a positive thing. I didn't chat with the manager. I didn't need to. I knew when I was bad and I know when I am good.

"Maybe I understand what the manager wants a bit more from me now, but if you give everything on the pitch, you work hard, then every manager will be happy. If I can do that then we will see."

It will be two years in July when Malbranque moved to Wearside and he has rarely looked like scoring and adding to his one Premier League goal for the club, none this season, is in his thoughts.

He would rather not look on the situation selfishly and prefers to concentrate on maintaining his reputation for providing plenty of assists in the hope Sunderland can push towards the top ten.

"We will try everything to get in there. We need to win as many matches as we can and we will see what happens," he said. "We are disappointed with that bad run we had. We lost too many points in injury time or the last five minutes.

"That's football and sometimes it can happen. We have had to deal with the frustration. This season, at least, has been different because we are safe before the last day. Had we not had that bad run we would have been in a better position."

Source Paul Fraser at The Northern Echo
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