Bruce took charge at Villa mid way through last season, when Robert Di Matteo was sacked.
At that stage, Villa were looking nervously over their shoulders - with their form abject.
The claret and blues had been relegated from the Premier League, and struggled to adapt to the rigours of the Championship during their first few months in the second tier.
Bruce admits that he feared Villa could suffer back-to-back relegations, and he feels that Sunderland have got locked into a similar situation.
“I thought we could slip the other way,” Bruce admitted.
“I make no bones about it. For six months I made us difficult to beat. I didn’t care about entertaining. We just had to get a few results and turn the whole thing around.
“We had good players here but I just think the club had got into the downward spiral.
“They were used to getting beat and once that happens it becomes the norm - ‘ahh Villa have been beaten again, so what?’
“I can only look at Sunderland now, they’re in the same situation.
“They’ve got into a spiral where they’re getting beaten too often.”
Sunderland were relegated last term from the Premier League, and they have been able to win just once this term.
Sunderland are currently in 23rd place in the Championship table, with concerns rising at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats are next in action at the weekend, when they take on Bristol City.