Sam Allardyce admits Sunderland may require another coupon-busting winning streak in the home straight, if they are to remain in the Premier League.
Defeat against Manchester City last night kept Sunderland four points adrift of safety in the relegation battle, yet their drop rivals are creating an ominous buffer, with fifth-bottom Swansea now boasting a seven-point gap.
Since taking charge at the Stadium of Light four months ago, Allardyce has played down talk of games being ‘must win’; preferring instead to stress the importance of not suffering defeats.
But with just 14 games to go, Allardyce admits Sunderland may need to repeat their feats from the previous two seasons and enjoy a winning streak in the finale.
Allardyce said: “It is an undefeated run we need, a win, two draws, whatever.
“When we get to single figures (of games) we might have to be looking at stringing together three or four wins.
“I am trying not to get to that stage but as it looms ever more close, it looks like that maybe the case.
“Had the performance brought the victory we probably deserved last night we would feel much happier and comfortable.”
Bournemouth won at Crystal Palace last night, while Swansea drew at West Brom - even though they were denied maximum points by a stoppage time equaliser.
Sunderland at least merited a share of the spoils against title-chasing City, yet ultimately came away empty-handed.
Allardyce added: “It gets ever harder. I said many weeks ago, we didn’t have to win, we could have drawn and continued to draw and picked up the odd win here and there.
“We haven’t done that. Even a point last night would have been precious. That was the least we deserved but we didn’t get it.
“To play as well as we did has to be encouraging, even though I feel really gutted.”
And Allardyce felt Joe Hart was the difference between the two sides.
“To outshine Man City and make more chances than them, from our point of view, will give us more results if we continue at that level,” he added.
“We missed some chances but there were some top saves from Joe Hart too. It showed why he is the England goalkeeper.
“One chance and they score. It had to fall to (Sergio) Aguero. Sadly for us a deflection helped it in his path.”