David Moyes wants Sunderland’s winless start to the Premier League season to be at the forefront of his players’ minds – not for them to shy away from it.
With Sunderland propping up the rest of the top flight with just two points, the Black Cats boss has urged his struggling squad to thrive on the pressure.
He hasn’t been encouraging his players to forget about the start to the season, instead Moyes believes it should be inspiring them to do better.
Sunderland are only the second team in top-flight history – after Bury in 1905 and 1906 – to fail to win any of their opening eight league games in consecutive seasons.
And they must avoid defeat at West Ham United today to avoid the worst start to a Premier League season by any club this century.
“There is pressure on us all because we are trying to get our first win,” said Moyes, ahead of the game at the London Stadium (3pm kick-off).
“I think the players should be thinking about getting the first win.
“They should be thinking that we have not won yet.
“I think they do need to take that responsibility, carry it and say ‘hey, we do need to win’.
“We are all feeling it.
“I don’t think we should walk out there and think everything is rosy, that is not the case.
“We know the players have to perform and not make the mistakes we have made in some games.
“If the opposition are better than us and we are not good enough, then that happens.
“Last week, we were equal, but we gave them the goals, at times, that cost us dearly.”
Moyes’ options ahead of today’s game have been boosted thanks to the return to training of Lamine Kone and Patrick van Aanholt, the pair overcoming a hamstring and adductor strain, respectively.
The atmosphere in training has been bright, despite the club’s league position.
“Training has been really good, the players training with a good tempo and a brilliant attitude,” added Moyes.
“We have added some younger players in, which has added some spice and given it a freshness.
“If anything, the training has been up, almost as if there has been a release and they are able to show their ability and play more than they have in games.
“There were periods in the game at Stoke where we had done better. That didn’t show with the result.”