The phrase ‘every game now is a cup final’ is a football cliché but it couldn’t be more apt for Sunderland.
Hull City’s 1-1 draw with relegation rivals Barnsley saw the gap to safety increase to five points, with only 12 games left.
And with a goal difference of -24, Sunderland are effectively six points from safety with time quickly running out.
Sunderland travel to Millwall on Saturday ahead of Aston Villa at home Tuesday and another trip to the capital to face QPR next weekend. A huge - and potentially pivotal - week ahead, the significance of which is not lost on Chris Coleman.
Coleman said: “It’s a big seven days, every game for us is a cup final at the moment. The opposition we’ve got, it is going to be tough but the opportunity is there to be taken.
“That’s how we have to see it, we can flip everything. I’m looking forward to it.
“You never achieve anything easily, there’s always a little bit of suffering and adversity and you have to face that. People will look at our situation and criticise us, want us to stay where we are, keep us down.
“Certain people enjoy that, but if you can muster up the fight and drag yourself away from it, the satisfaction in that is incredible. I know what because I’ve experienced it before.
“If you let people put you in a box and tell you it will always be the same, shame on you really.
“My dad always used to give me good experience, and one thing he always said was never give people permission to make you feel bad about yourself, which was spot on.”
Sunderland and Millwall drew 2-2 in November, the game notable as every goal was down to goalkeeper error with Robbin Ruiter and Jordan Archer at fault.
Coleman added: “Millwall are a tough team to play against, very well organised and not afraid to play ugly when they need to, which is a feather in their cap. But they also play good football, and Neil Harris is doing a real good job.”