Fuming Chris Coleman has warned his relegation-threatened Sunderland players that he won’t stand for them accepting defeat – after a dismal 3-0 mauling at Sheffield United.
Coleman had strong words for his players after they were thumped at Bramall Lane yesterday, Sunderland deep in relegation trouble after failing to land a punch.
A visibly frustrated Coleman – who admits he didn’t see the desperate performance coming – warned against apathy and called on his players to show more fight and be “better, stronger, meaner and hungrier” if they are to get out of trouble.
Sunderland remain third-bottom in the Championship, a point from safety after results elsewhere went their way. “It was a bitterly disappointing performance,” said Coleman.
“I think we just swallowed it really, whatever Sheffield United threw at us. As soon as we were 1-0 down, we just accepted a low level performance from each other.
“In the second half, from the kick-off we were OK, then we conceded the second one, which is unforgivable.
“I could sit here all night and say how bad this that and the other was. You saw it yourself.
“It is the first time I have seen that from them. When you are in that position, it is not anger, it is apathy which is very dangerous.
“There is a lot of food for thought. Looking at it, eight games, four weeks I have been here and I never seen that performance.
“We haven’t won every game, but we’ve been in games. We were never in that game (yesterday), if we’re being honest.
“We were up against a Sheffield United team stronger, quicker, looked hungrier, looked fitter.
“I don’t want to say we were missing this, that and the other – this is what we have got and it wasn’t good enough. It is simple really, unless we get better we will never get away from where we are.
“It is OK winning one and then everyone gets a bit excited and then we reveal ourselves.
“We are here for a reason, unless we get better, stronger, meaner and hungrier then we won’t ever get away from where we are.
“I am saying they, I don’t just mean the players. Me too. It is my team now. What we had on offer was nowhere near good enough.
“I have to find answers and solutions quickly. It is as simple as that.”
Coleman, in charge for just over a month, was asked if the apathy surprised him.
He added: “I have not seen that [before]. We are where we are in the league for a reason.
“I can only describe to you my experience with this group since I have been here and I haven’t been disappointed with them – they have trained hard and tried to take things on board and there has been a lot of chopping and changing because we have injuries.
“But I didn’t see that coming. I thought Boxing Day, Sheffield United, great game. We just weren’t there.
“Acceptance is a horrible word in football to use on the back of a hiding.
“Not good signs. I am not panicking at all, I would rather deal with what I can see and what I saw was everything I didn’t want to.
“Too many areas we were short in, accepting of things in too many areas.
“Too many shortcuts, wishing our life away, waiting for the clock to tick down, ‘let’s get out of here, this is too much for us’ – that is how it looked. We got what we deserved and it could have been worse in the end.”