Why Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce is really bugged by defensive record

John O'Shea battles in defence for Sunderland at Tottenham in the 4-1 defeat. Picture by Frank Reid

John O'Shea battles in defence for Sunderland at Tottenham in the 4-1 defeat. Picture by Frank Reid

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Sam Allardyce admits Sunderland’s dire defensive record is leaving him silently seething.

Sunderland have shipped more goals than any other Premier League side this season, with the Black Cats on average conceding two per game.

Boss Allardyce believes that if second-bottom Sunderland had discovered the knack of keeping clean sheets, then they would already be free of the relegation zone.

But with Sunderland in the midst of a two-month stretch without a shut-out, Allardyce is sick of the sound of his own voice in attempting to iron out the Black Cats’ defensive shortcomings.

“I’d like to have had more points, I think we should have done,” he said.

“I think the players realise they’ve let themselves down on certain occasions.

“We’re not suffering a huge amount of problems, other than lapses of concentration when we make the game far too easy for the opposition to score.

“All we’ve got to do is shut that up. That’s not a difficult task if you get your mentality right and hold your nerve.

“The simple fact is that if we’d kept more clean sheets, we’d already be out of trouble. It really does bug me when I spend most of my time on that.

“I’ve stopped talking about it, effectively, now because there’s only so long you can keep going on about it. But it is the most important fact that we’ve not kept enough clean sheets.”

Regardless of a clean sheet or not, Sunderland desperately need to emerge victorious from tomorrow’s tussle with fellow strugglers Bournemouth, with the Cherries potentially moving nine points clear of Allardyce’s men if they can win on Wearside.

However, Sunderland have held their nerve over recent weeks in six-pointers against Aston Villa and Swansea, and Allardyce is looking for similar this weekend.

“If we do beat Bournemouth, it’s a very good recovery after five defeats on the trot,” he added.

“For a team that’s in the bottom three, to win three out of four is no mean feat.

“But we’ve got to make sure we go and win it tomorrow. We’ve got to remember the performances we gave against Villa and Swansea, and make sure we get the victory.

“We’re still in the fight whatever happens, mathematically.

“But it makes life hugely difficult to catch Bournemouth if we lose tomorrow. That might be one more out the way that we can’t catch.

“We’ve had miraculous recoveries over the last few years. It’s fantastic when it happens, but you try your very best for that not to be the scenario. Sooner or later, it’s not going to work.

“I don’t want to be relying on winning four out of the last six, or getting our best run of the season – as we’ve done in the last three years.

“I want the players to do it now. The games are running out and we’ve got a points total that’s far less than the games played.”