Mike Dodds 'confident' Sunderland message and selection pledge after Swansea City loss

Sunderland have fallen eight points behind sixth in the race for a play-off place
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Mike Dodds says he remains confident in his Sunderland players and is staying optimistic that they can yet have major say in the race for a play-off place.

Dodds was left disappointed with his side's dismal first half showing against Swansea City, the two goals deficit ultimately proving insurmountable as the Black Cats dropped eight points behind Hull City in sixth. Sunderland have now lost three Championship games on the bounce but says he has clarity on what went wrong in the game and as such, is confident that they can turn it around.

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"I'm disappointed with it," he said of Sunderland's ongoing consistency issues.

"I don't know if this is the right phrase but my name is above the door. That first half performance isn't a Mike Dodds team and the second half is what we all want to see. I'll have to watch the game back, the bit that I need a bit more clarity on is we set up to be more aggressive in the first half but for whatever reason they had too much control and created too many chances. It was a really poor 45 minutes, really poor.

"We changed in the second half and went more reserved but actually looked more aggressive. There are still 12 games to go and I am going to be really naturally optimistic because I know we have some really good players.

"The result today isn't going to help the push for the top six but we still have 12 games to go, I'm still confident in the way we work, I'm still confident in terms of the group we've got. The difference between my last game in charge and this one, I can see where we fell short and that's something that we - staff and players - have to take on the chin. I'm looking forward to having a really good week with them and I'm looking forward to the next few games.

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"I have a level of self confidence. I'm disappointed with the first half, naturally, but I have a full week with them and I'm looking forward to the three games. We know what they'll be, roughly how they set up and what we're going into. We just have to perform better than we did in that first 45. That's something I'm confident we can address."

Dodds admitted his switch to a back three in the first half didn't work but says he will continue to make choices he thinks will help his team get on the front foot.

"I've got to be authentic to me," he said.

"There has to be a balance. It's not lost on me the magnitude of this football club and how much it means to the fans. I've only been here a short period of time in terms of my time up here but I've fallen in love with the area and the club. I'm not gambling with the decisions, I'm not [sitting at] a roulette table, but I will make decisions that put us more on the front foot and in people's faces. I felt in terms of the general set-up that was the case. The reality was it wasn't. That's something i'm fully aware of.

"What I don't want is people thinking every week I'm just gambling, that's not the case. I will be really clear in terms of what I want to do game to game."