"I've had the habit of always looking down over the last few years and the club has been embroiled in two relegation battles recently," he said.
"We are not going to get carried away, that is for sure, but we have a lot of work to do.
"If we can keep the team together we could definitely be challenging Everton for sixth at the end of the season."
If so, the Latics must return to winning ways against Manchester City on Saturday.
"We know what their strengths are, it is their attacking flair, but we hope we can expose their weaknesses and make sure we are right on the day," Bruce added.
"The Premier League is tough, you have to be at your best to get a result and make no mistake we'll have to be at our best. We look forward to the challenge."