If Sunderland are to pull off another great escape this season it will be achieved by good old-fashioned teamwork.
That was the message from Jan Kirchhoff as the Black Cats build up towards Saturday’s basement battle at Swansea City.
The German made a winning return from injury at the weekend, his header from fellow sub Seb Larsson’s corner putting the side on the way to a 2-1 win over Leicester City – with the help of a huge deflection off Foxes defender Robert Huth.
Kirchhoff knows the individual ability in a Sunderland line-up including Jermain Defoe and Victor Anichebe but says the collective strength means everything.
“Football is a team game,” declared the 26-year-old.
“There are few players in the world who are able to decide a game on their own. Even for them, to put the ability of each player together and get the best out of each individual player that is what you have to do.
“That is the only chance how you can be successful.
“It is about all of us playing at our highest level.
“Put that together and bring your strength into the squad and win games as a team.
“It is not down to one of us, it is down to the 11 on the pitch and those on the bench or who are training.
“It is a team sport, not an individual one.”
Saturday’s visit to the Liberty Stadium is a huge fixture, though you could argue they all are.
Swansea are bottom on nine points, two places and points behind David Moyes’s side, though it is very congested with five points separating the bottom seven clubs.
Kirchhoff said: “It is the next team we have to beat.
“I have looked at the table and it is really tight.
“Up until Bournemouth everyone is playing against relegation.
“It is so tight – every week and the whole table can be changed and switched.
“It is up to us to win this game and to win against a team that is down there and for us to get out of the bottom three as soon as we can.”
A win could lift the Black Cats out of the danger zone and Kirchhoff says in Defoe they have a man to put away the chances.
The 34-year-old scored his eighth goal of the season in that vital win over the champions with a typical poacher’s finish.
“Jermain’s unbelievable,” said the midfielder.
“It is amazing how secure he is in front of goal and how many goals he has scored.
“We hope that he continues his performances and quality in front of goal.”