David Moyes insists a win against Leicester City will keep Sunderland in pursuit of another Great Escape.
He admitted, however, that the Foxes’ counter-attacking prowess is something the Black Cats will have to be wary of as they chase their first win, and indeed first goal, since the 4-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace in February.
Craig Shakespeare’s promotion to the managerial hotseat, albeit on a temporary basis, has been the catalyst for a significant revival at the King Power Stadium.
They have won five games on the bounce in all competitions and so Moyes is fully aware of the scale of the challenge.
He said: “I think with Leicester, I think they were in really good form at the end of the season before they won the Premier League, they came up, were on the brink of relegation, went on a run of games and went on to win the league which was an incredible achievement.
“I think they were also due a blip, it might have happened in the first half of the season.
“I don’t think it was anything down to the manager at all.
“I think it was the players not just reaching the form or levels they had been at.
“They’re great on the counter, they hit you very quickly. Vardy’s ability to run in behind, there’s big energy in the team, we need to be mindful about it.
“There’s still a chance, so we have to keep going,” he added.
“I said that I thought we had to win one of these two games [Watford and Leicester] and I still think that, if we are to stay in the pack given the games we have coming up.
“Obviously we have Manchester United at the weekend which will be tough, but after that we have games which offer a real opportunity to win.
“That’s why I felt that winning one of these two away games was key, and that hasn’t changed.
“We came close against Watford in the sense that we were in the game, we were never out of it, and we kept going.
“But we just lacked that bit of quality that would have made the difference between losing 1-0 and winning 1-0.
“It just didn’t go for us on the day and we lost to a poor set-piece in the end.
“We’ll keep going because there is still a chance.”
Sunderland’s task has been made harder by their rivals impressive recent form, with Crystal Palace pulling away alongside Leicester City.
Their 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was one of the shocks of the season so far and underlined their remarkable progress since Sunderland’s victory at Selhurst Park.
While Moyes has acknowledged that has made his side’s task even harder, he pointed out that it shows how unpredictable football can be and urged his team to give supporters and indeed themselves some hope to cling on to.
He said: “You never know in football, that’s the beauty of the game, isn’t it?
“You just can’t get it right – if you could, people would make fortunes by predicting the outcome of games.
“We now have to get two or three good results in the next upcoming games.
“The manager and the players don’t like losing, and we know the supporters don’t either.
“We are all looking for that win to give us something to grasp on to and a bit of hope for the next game, so we’ll try and get that.”