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Chris Coleman admits Sunderland’s players make the fans nervous at the Stadium of Light

Chris Coleman.
Chris Coleman.

Chris Coleman says it is up to his Sunderland players to allay any nerves and tension in the Stadium of Light this afternoon.

With just 13 games left in the season, the fight to stay in the Championship is approaching a critical stage and a visiting Middlesbrough side pushing for the play-offs will not make for easy opponents.

The Black Cats made an abysmal start to the home game against Brentford last weekend and boss Coleman says that only the players can change the mood on Wearside.

He said: “For any team, for any individual, if you do all the things you need to be doing, more often than not, you get results. There is no other way, it just doesn’t happen otherwise.

“When we’ve stepped forward, we’ve got good results.

“When we’ve been nervous, not been at it, it hasn’t happened.

“It’ll be no different (today), we know what we need to do.

“You’re never guaranteed to get a result but we’ll have a better chance, and what will happen if we do that is our supporters will stay with us.

“At home, we make them nervous when we play like we do. They go, ‘here we go again’, and it goes against us.

“We’ve got to make them think, ‘hang on, not today, they’re ready today’.

“Then we keep them with us and that is how we get through it.”

Coleman was buoyed by the response of his team at Bolton on Tuesday night, despite another damaging defeat that has left Sunderland rooted to the bottom of the Championship table.

He admits that the size of the club, and the pressure that brings, is a new challange for him personally, but it is one that he continues to relish.

He said: “I always look forward to the battle.

“The pressure is on, but it is an absolute addiction.

“Last week, I came out after the game to talk, and it’s like the ‘end of the world’.

“But there’s another game coming and you’re chasing it, another opportunity to chase that good feeling, to get that reaction.

“At a club this size, when you aren’t doing well, you so feel it, and that’s new for me.

“I’ve never managed a club this big before.

“If we can win, that positive reaction will be huge and we can take so much momentum from it.

“We keep missing these opportunities, but there’s another one (today).”

Meanwhile, midfielder Paddy McNair says Middlesbrough’s position in the table is irrelevant and that Sunderland have the quality to cause an upset.

He said: “In the Championship, anyone can beat anyone and we have to go in with that mindset.

“It doesn’t matter where Middlesbrough are in the table, it’s irrelevant.

“We know we can go into that game and take three points.

“We can’t go with our heads down, we need to produce a strong performance.

“I felt we were very unlucky against Bolton and when we put in good performances the points will come.”