GUS Poyet says he and his players have to accept that in the eyes of pretty much everybody now, they are the favourites for relegation from the Premier League this season.
Results for their rivals over the weekend were as cruel for the Black Cats as they had been fortuitous the previous week when they had also waited until Monday for their game.
Results the other weekend went in Sunderland’s favour - though Poyet’s men failed to capitalise, falling to a morale-sapping defeat against West Ham a week ago.
This weekend though was crushing for Sunderland’s survival hopes with a five point gap opening up between third and fourth bottom while Fulham’s unexpected win at Aston Villa dropped the Black Cats to the bottom of the table for the first time since early January.
Poyet is unsurprised there is increasing scepticism about Sunderland’s survival hopes as games run out.”
But he is absolutely determined to leave no stone unturned in his bid to keep Sunderland in the top flight and he insists he has not given up hope of doing so.
“We are where we are,” shrugged. “We are not going to hide from that.
“People always talk about teams being too good to go down but every season teams that are, on paper impressive, do go down because when it comes to kick-off they don’t perform as they should.
“We have not performed so far this season – over the whole course of it – as well as we should, and that’s why we are in the relegation zone.”
Poyet says that he and his players can take motivation from the thought of how amazing it would be if Sunderland could surprise all the doubters and plot an unlikely escape route in the dying days of the 2013-14 campaign.
“We have to change our results, the players and coaching staff here, we have to find our way to improve our results because if we don’t do that, then nothing else matters.
“We have to win a few games and we have no time to spare.
“It will be tough but it can certainly be done and how great would it be if we did do it from this position?
“Me, as a character, I would love to be the person who surprises everyone, and I want my players to think the same.”