Chris Coleman admits he and the Sunderland players are all coming up short in the fight for survival – and he is worried he keeps seeing the same mistakes.
Sunderland were humbled by promotion-chasing Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light last night, Steve Bruce’s side comfortable 3-0 winners without ever getting out of second gear.
Lewis Grabban opened the scoring after capitalising on indecisive Sunderland defending before James Chester sealed the win seconds before half-time. A Bryan Oviedo own goal midway through the second half capped off another horror-show at home.
With 10 games remaining, Sunderland remain four points adrift of safety, the Black Cats fortunate that Burton Albion, Birmingham City, Barnsley and Hull City also lost.
When asked how many players he had who were mentally strong enough, Coleman said: “You have to look at all of us at the moment and see are we mentally strong enough, all of us.
“Have we got the minerals? Have we got what it takes? If you haven’t got enough courage it is no good, not in this situation.
“This is a test for all of us, not just one or two of us.
“We are all coming up short, myself included.
“We have to find something. The worrying thing for me is I am seeing the same things, that is quite worrying.”
Sunderland went into the game on the back of encouraging performances against Middlesbrough and Millwall, but he admitted it was several steps back against Villa.
Coleman said: “It is a bitter pill to swallow. There wasn’t much in the game before they scored, we gifted goals, it is a common theme. The game was done and dusted.
“It is a poor, poor night for us. Back to the start. The teams around us keep losing, that is the only bit of light at the end of the tunnel. We are back at square one.
“We have a game in four days and we have to lift ourselves for it. The saving grace is it is away from home, we struggle so badly here. It is of our own doing.”
The Sunderland boss admits he is feeling the pressure along with the players.
“I made my choice [to come here]. I am feeling it, I am a human being. It is tough. Like the players and fans there will be sleepless nights, it is painful, brutal at the moment.
“But I maintain there is still a chance for us. We are not taking it, we keep refusing to take it and we keep digging holes for ourselves, but there is still a chance, and you have to keep fighting.
“I am in pain now, this is a tough night.
“I need to pick myself up to pick them up. I don’t like papering over cracks, I am hurting as much as anybody.
“I feel the pull of the negativity. It is such a big club heading in the wrong direction, it is tough but it is not impossible.
“This club has done it before, been seven points behind with six to play for and pulled it out the bag. It is not undoable.
“It is painful at the moment, brutal, where you go on a run of games where you haven’t won and gift a team three points at home.”
Sunderland head to QPR on Saturday.
Coleman added: “It is still four points (to safety). We choose our own fate, our future – is it going to be go with a whimper, tail between our legs or you have a go?
“This is not how you get away from where we are. If you have to score more than three goals to win a game of football you are in trouble.”