Sam Allardyce wouldn’t begrudge two draws from back-to-back home games, despite the growing gulf with the survival mark.
Sunderland head into tonight’s clash against Liverpool with their position in the relegation battle looking increasingly perilous after falling seven points adrift of fourth bottom Swansea.
If we draw two, then that’s no problem. If we can win one, that would obviously be much better. If we could win two, fabulous.
Four successive defeats have plunged Sunderland back into the mire and made two Stadium of Light encounters in the space of three days against Liverpool and basement boys Aston Villa all the more pivotal for Allardyce’s men.
But after seeing Sunderland swept aside so comfortably against Chelsea and Manchester City, Allardyce want to see his players demonstrate some resilience to avoid defeat, first and foremost.
When asked whether Sunderland needed to win at least one of this week’s games, Allardyce said: “No. We’ve just got to stop losing.
“If we draw two, then that’s no problem. If we can win one, that would obviously be much better. If we could win two, fabulous.
“But we have got to stop losing first and try to build the confidence from there.
“Our problems at the moment are very acute defensively, which is making life extremely difficult for us, but we have to also show a lot more grit and determination than we are showing at the moment.
“It’s about rolling our sleeves up and being committed and certainly being difficult to beat.
“That’s the starting point for us.”
Sunderland appeared to have turned the corner when they won three of Allardyce’s first six games at the helm, and could feasibly have come away with something from title-chasing Arsenal.
But the last three games – when Sunderland have conceded a total of six goals before the midway point of the first half – have left Allardyce facing a huge task to steer the club towards Premier League safety.
“I knew it could be as bad this because of where we started from with no wins from eight games,” he said.
“The three wins in the first six games gave us a glimmer of hope and then we had the opportunity to have 15 points from 16 games against Watford, but we failed miserably.
“That showed that we still had a fraility mentally. More recently, we have just not applied ourselves out of possession defensively correctly – certainly in the last two games.
“They are big teams, but they are big teams who have not been playing that well.
“City barely beat Swansea, and Chelsea had sacked Jose (Mourinho) and were low on confidence but we made life extremely easy for both of those teams and that really worries me about our defensive resilience.
“My job is to continue to promote the fact that we need to be more active out of possession in closing down the opposition better.
“If you don’t put people on the ball under pressure, then they don’t make mistakes.”
Allardyce’s worry is whether Sunderland have the mental strength to perform in that fashion after four successive defeats have plunged the club back towards the precipice to the Championship.
“The players at this moment in time are struggling with the fear that I think is inhibiting them playing the way that they want to,” he added.
“I have got to try and alleviate that. I’ve said on a few occasions that the ability is there from watching them on the training ground, you get encouragement from what you see.
“Our problem is transmitting it under the pressure that we are under at the moment.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do from a mental point of view in getting them to go out there and relax and show what they do on the training ground.”