JOHN O’SHEA says “moral victories” are useless to Sunderland with the Black Cats cast adrift at the bottom of the table.
Last Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool left Sunderland four points adrift of safety and still winless after the opening six league games of the campaign.
There were positives to take against the Merseysiders, with Sunderland pushing hard for an equaliser after Emanuele Giaccherini had halved the two-goal deficit early in the second half.
But Sunderland still succumbed to their fifth defeat in six and skipper O’Shea knows points must now override any plaudits – starting with Saturday’s visit of his former club Manchester United.
O’Shea said: “The positives don’t count for anything.
“Believe me, anyone in the dressing room would rather play terrible and win the games 1-0.
“We have to get away from moral victories when we’ve done okay or done this, and done that.
“We have to stand up and take responsibility, make sure we get clean sheets and go ahead in games.
“The players need to get this home crowd behind us and give them something to cheer about, rather than them having to get us going all the time.
“We did that in the second half against Liverpool, but we need to be doing that from the start.
“The sooner we get the win on the board the better, and why not against United?
“We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be tough.
“But we have to start somewhere.”
Sunderland have conceded three times in each of their last four league games, but have sensed the possibility of a point in the last two home outings against Liverpool and Arsenal.
The Premier League’s current top two didn’t grab a killer third until the closing stages of each game.
But despite their best efforts to mount a second half comeback, Sunderland paid the price for falling behind – a fate that has befallen them in every league game, other than the draw at Southampton.
“When you come into a game against Liverpool, you don’t want to give them a 2-0 head start,” added O’Shea.
“We need to start getting our noses in front.
“When you’ve got teams of the counter-attacking ability of Liverpool and Arsenal, it’s going to put you under so much pressure.
“Obviously, it paid off for them with a minute to go when we had to go for extra bodies up front. They were able to counter and score again.”