Sunderland goalkeeper Jason Steele reflects on heavy defeat at Ipswich Town and seeks a win - by hook or by crook

Jason Steele makes a save in Sunderland's midweek defeat at Ipswich. Picture by Frank Reid
Jason Steele makes a save in Sunderland's midweek defeat at Ipswich. Picture by Frank Reid

A crestfallen Jason Steele admits he and his fellow Sunderland players need to take responsibility after their thumping at Portman Road on Tuesday night.

Visibly raw after conceding five goals on his unexpected return to the side, keeper Steele said there is only so much manager Simon Grayson can do.

The 27-year-old added that some soul-searching must be followed by a win away to Preston on Saturday.

He said: “By hook or by crook, we’ve got to win a football match quickly, whether that means we sit in our own half for 89 minutes then come out on the break or however we take it – we’ve got to win a football match quickly.

“Maybe it just needs to be the lads, just with each other. I don’t know. It’s us that cross the line at the end of the day and there’s only so much the manager can do.

“It’s the lads who cross the white line and, for the first half (at Ipswich), even for 75 minutes, it was, yeah, rubbish.

“Yeah [there were harsh words], and rightly so. I think that will be followed by a few more over the next couple of days. We’ve got to go out on Saturday and whoever plays has got to win a football match.

“I can’t even say that [there are too many individuals in the team] because we’re a good group of lads, we all get on, we all want to fight for each other. It’s hard to bear. It’s tough.”

Manager Simon Grayson has already warned Sunderland that no club is too big to go down, something Steele is well aware of.

He was part of a Blackburn side relegated last season and says Rovers’ demise showed that talent alone is not enough to stay up in the second tier.

The ex-Middlesbrough keeper said: “I suppose you could say that, but it has a lot to do with how hard you work.

“By the end of the season [at Blackburn], we should never have gone down last year because we were better than a lot of teams. But you have to work hard in this league and, if you don’t, like the first half, [you pay the penalty].

“Are they a better team than us on paper? You wouldn’t say yes, would you?

“You’d say ‘no’ straight away, but hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard. I can’t put my finger on it at the moment.

“We started okay [this season], we started all right.

“But we lose a couple of games and it’s almost like it becomes a habit and it’s acceptable.

“It’s tough. It’s a habit that needs to end.

“I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it all before and over the last couple of weeks but it needs to stop – losing football matches and accepting losing football matches. It’s as simple as that.”

Steele was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI, with Grayson admitting that Robbin Ruiter had done nothing wrong in previous games.

A devastated Steele struggled for words and said that hard work on the training ground would be key.

“I didn’t know I was playing, but I felt really confident. I felt good, I felt ready,” he added.

“It’s tough. Just a lot of, lot of things arent going our way, even little things like the fourth goal – I save a shot and it hits the lad (David McGoldrick) and goes in.

“I don’t know. It’s one of them spells now where we need to get a bit lucky ourselves. It’s hard. It’s tough.

“The dressing room is not a nice place to be when you lose like that.

“I don’t know whether I’m coming across the right way, maybe I’m not.

“Maybe I should be trying to be more positive – I don’t know, it’s just me.

“I think we’ve got to work hard over the next couple of days on the training ground to put it right, simple as that.”