David Moyes was under no illusions as to the task facing him when he agreed to take on the Sunderland job in the wake of Sam Allardyce’s departure to England.
Two months into the role, Moyes’ Sunderland side are bottom of the Premier League, without a win in their opening six league games and shipping goals for fun at home.
I did expect to win games, but we’re struggling to win games at the moment.
Crystal Palace, on Saturday, were the second side in successive home games to put three past Sunderland in the space of 45 second-half minutes.
Eight goals have been conceded in just three home games, all lost, with Sunderland conceding two or more goals in four out of their six league games so far.
It makes for grim reading.
And the second-half collapse to Alan Pardew’s Palace side, who rallied from 2-0 down to win 3-2, was even more galling, given Jermain Defoe’s brace had put them in a commanding position.
“It’s been a tough period,” admitted Moyes.
“I want to be successful, I want to win games.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, that’s for sure.
“I did expect to win games, but we’re struggling to win games at the moment.
“But the club’s been in that position last year and the year before. Probably last year was worse in some ways.
“We have to try to do what they did and find a way to get out of it. We’re working towards finding a team that can win.
“At 2-0, you might have said this was Sunderland’s day.
“I can only put it down to us not doing the basics well enough, not heading it and kicking it when we get the chance, picking up and marking, which we should do.
“We didn’t do that well enough when we needed to.”
If some of his players are expecting an arm around the shoulder, though, they could be waiting a long time, with Moyes more interested in seeing his players take on more responsibility as they look to turn around their season.
The 53-year-old Scot added: “I don’t know that I’m necessarily an ‘arm around the shoulder man’.
“I want to see men stand up and take responsibility, when it’s tough you stand up to take the challenge on.”
The immediate challenge facing his players ahead of the visit of West Bromwich Albion on Saturday is to bounce back quickly from their latest defeat.
Sunderland didn’t win their first league game until the end of October last season and still stayed up, but Moyes is desperate to avoid a repeat.
He doesn’t put the side’s recent struggles down to a mental fragility among his squad. Instead, he believes Sunderland may be trying to be too open at home.
“I don’t think so. I think we’d had a good week,” added Moyes.
“Our worst defensive performances are coming at home.
“We’re asking the players ‘go and take the ball, play, try to be creative.
“But maybe when we open up we find ourselves in trouble.
“Sometimes it’s not the obvious [changes] that might be needed.
“We’ve got to get some stability because. at the moment. it doesn’t look like we can keep a clean sheet.
“I don’t think we necessarily crumbled or anything like that, far from it.
“We gave them some opportunities.
“But we had a chance to make it 3-1. We didn’t (take it) and from that we suffered.
“We never get a chance to be a 2-0 team. Within 15-20 seconds, or whatever it was, we let a goal in.
“If we’d have done better then maybe we could have done something to shore things up, make sure we were harder to beat,” added Moyes.