Sunderland support leaves Steven Pienaar speechless, but midfielder admits players are letting them down
With their team rooted to the foot of the Premier League and trailing 2-0 at half-time, the Sunderland supporters could have turned on their team at Stoke City.
They did let the players have both barrels as they made their way down the tunnel at the break.
But for the next 45 minutes, they stood behind their side, backing them to the hilt with non-stop support for the rest of the game.
Winless Sunderland already find themselves in a perilous situation, eight games in they are yet to taste victory.
Time is already against them in the battle to stay up. But the fans are sticking by them.
And Sunderland midfielder Steven Pienaar admits the players need to start repaying that faith, with the experienced 34-year-old lost for words with their backing.
Pienaar said: “The fans had a right to vent their frustration at half-time at Stoke, they have paid their money and were not happy we were losing.
“But second half, when you sit on the bench and hear the fans. I have no words.
“It was just amazing, them standing behind the team that way.
“We, as players, we owe them for that, we have to start winning games, making sure people go home happy to their families.
“Our home games too, we get 40,000 to 45,000 supporters to every home game at the Stadium of Light.
“They have been backing us and, as a player, you feel ‘we are letting a lot of people down here’.
“ We have to start getting it right.”
Pienaar admits the Sunderland players need to work harder in games if they are to turn around their fortunes this season, with a trip to West Ham United next up for Sunderland.
“I won’t sugarcoat it, we haven’t been playing to our levels,” he added.
“There are no excuses. We need to pull our socks up and work harder.
“When you are in a situation likes this, confidence is low, but it is up to the players, the 18 players in the squad, to fight for everything.
“But, at the moment, we are not doing that, that is why the results are not going our way.
“It is a big challenge. I have had a few rough patches along the line in my career, but this is a challenge I am looking forward to.
“When I came here, I wanted to help the team finish higher than last season. At the moment, it is not going the way we had planned it.
“The only way to get out of it is to work hard, fight and work hard for each other on the field.”
Sunderland have become experts at timing their run to Premier League safety over the past four seasons.
But with Sunderland still without a win, Pienaar knows all too well, the squad cannot rely on again finishing the campaign strongly.
He added: “As a group, we have talked about that.
“Listen, we don’t want to wake up the last 10 games of the season, we want to start picking up points now going into the final 10 games knowing we can play our football and make sure the supporters come to the games without a lot of tension.
“We want to pick up points as early as possible, starting at West Ham. It is a big opportunity for us.
“If we can go there and frustrate them, then the supporters will be on their back.
“It would be a dream day for us. It is about working hard, being stubborn and making sure we keep a clean sheet and if we get one or two chances, to take them.”