Sunderland defender Billy Jones on the club’s loyal fanbase, points not praise and the visit of Manchester United

Billy Jones

Billy Jones

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With Sunderland’s survival hopes hanging by an increasingly slender thread, results not performances matter at this stage of the season.

But Billy Jones admits the Black Cats owe their loyal fanbase a big performance as well as points against Manchester United as they battle against the drop.

Heading into Sunday’s Premier League clash at the Stadium of Light (1.30pm kick-off), goal-shy Sunderland are marooned at the bottom, 10 points adrift of safety with just eight games to play.

Hopes of survival diminish by the week, but Jones says that the players won’t stop fighting despite being outsiders going into the game against Jose Mourinho’s United side.

“You look at the game and we go into it as underdogs,” said Jones.

“Everyone’s expecting us to get nothing, so you go into it trying to enjoy the occasion.

“We’ll be playing Man United with a massive, loyal crowd behind us and we have to give it our all, play with confidence – even though we’re bottom of the league – and try and express ourselves and show everyone we can play at this level.

“That’s what we’ll all be trying to do.

“As a team, we’ll need to create a good performance to get a good result.”

Sunderland have suffered a bruising week on and off the pitch, with back-to-back away defeats at Watford and Leicester City.

Manchester United are sixth-top, four points adrift of the final Champions League spot ahead of the Sunday lunchtime showdown.

Jones is desperate for Sunderland to put on a good show for the fans but knows, with the club’s top-flight status in real jeopardy, the only thing that really matters now is points on the board.

“The wins are the main thing and it doesn’t really matter about performances at this time, but you can look at the performance when you’ve lost a game and you’re disappointed,” added the 30-year-old, who has been with the club since the summer of 2014.

“You’re looking for some encouragement and you can look at moments in the game (at Leicester) where we’ve played well and if you can try and recreate that for 90 minutes, with the resilience we showed defensively at times, that will create clean sheets and give us a chance of getting a result.

“At this moment in time, results are the main thing, but when you lose a game you’ve got to look at what you’ve done well and try and recreate that for 90 minutes, knowing if you do that you will get the win.”