Jermain Defoe says Sunderland are already facing a “massive” Stadium of Light double header after an opening day drubbing at Leicester.
Sunderland began the new campaign in alarming fashion with a defensive horror show at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, with the 4-2 defeat flattering Dick Advocaat’s men, who could easily have succumbed to a heftier loss.
It’s difficult to take a defeat like that at the start of a long seasonJermain Defoe
Any hopes of Sunderland beginning the campaign positively, rather than the awful starts from the last two years, will now revolve around successive home games against newly-promoted Norwich this coming weekend, followed by the visit of Swansea.
And striker Defoe – one of the few players to emerge with any credit at Leicester by opening his account for the campaign – admits Sunderland owe their home fans a performance after the shambles in the East Midlands.
Defoe told the Gazette: “We have to move on from this and next weekend’s game against Norwich is massive.
“If we can win some games as early on in the season as possible, that will help us.
“It’s a case of character. You can’t dwell on it too much. It’s the first game.
“We’ve got two home games now, so hopefully we can make it difficult for teams to come here.
“It’s up to the players now to give something back to the fans.”
Defoe had a chance to open the scoring during a bright start from Sunderland, yet, when Leicester broke the deadlock, the Foxes went on to net three times in a dire 15 minute first-half capitulation from the visitors.
The England international and Steven Fletcher kept Sunderland in it with goals after the break, yet Leicester had a succession of chances to win by a more handsome margin, as they persistently exposed the ragged Black Cats defence.
“It’s difficult to take a defeat like that at the start of a long season,” said Defoe.
“The second half was better and we managed to get the two goals, so there’s some positives we can take out of the game.
“But with a first 20 minutes like that, the manager made it clear that you can’t come away from home in the Premier League and start like that.
“It’s not good enough.
“The league is getting harder and harder each year, and everyone knows you can’t defend like that.”
Even a first of the season was little comfort for the 32-year-old.
“It’s always nice to score, but when you win the game, it counts for so much more,” he added.
“On a personal note, it’s good for me and Fletch to score.
“But you just want to get three points as much as possible and try to get a good run going at the start of the season, rather than at the end.”