Bryan Oviedo admits Sunderland fans have every right to be unhappy as the club battles relegation to League One – but has called on everyone to stick together.
Sunderland are scrapping for Championship survival after a disastrous campaign following relegation from the Premier League.
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to play-off chasing Bristol City, Sunderland are second-bottom and two points adrift and, with only 16 games remaining, they will likely need to win half of them to stand a chance of staying up.
Fan frustrations have been growing, with owner Ellis Short facing the brunt of supporter fury, with mounting talk of possible protests at future home games among some sections of support.
Oviedo accepts that the current situation facing the club is ‘difficult’, but he says now is the time for everyone connected to the club to stand together.
Sunderland have lost four out of their last five Championship games, with the gap to fifth-bottom Bolton Wanderers now four points.
“The fans have a reason to be unhappy,” said former Everton left-back Oviedo.
“We are in a position where nobody would like to be. It is difficult.
“This is not the moment to be all fighting, it’s about being together.
“I know it is difficult, but we need to stay together.
“Sunderland is not just about the players, or the fans, it’s everyone, it’s all around.
“All of that has made great times before. At the moment, it is not like before, but this is not when we should be pointing the finger, it’s more the time for being together, fighting together – right now.
“It’s a difficult moment, but we need to change that.
“Sometimes it can be mentally, everyone around the club has to be positive.
“It can be negative when you get results like we have had, and you can understand that – you see it in the media, or some people talking about Sunderland as not being a great club.
“I believe Sunderland is a great club in all aspects.
“It is a very professional club, with a fantastic stadium, a fantastic training ground, and the players need to be together more than ever before.
“Even if you are young or old, you have to play and do well. We are not where we want to be.
“That includes all the team, not just me or another player.
“You can’t win games alone, it’s the team.
“We need everyone to be pulling in the same way.”
Sunderland have been on the receiving end of morale-sapping defeats to Birmingham City and Ipswich Town and Costa Rican international Oviedo has called on his club-mates to start turning their potential into points.
Oviedo added: “We have to react. We are a very good team, I think.
“We have everything – a fantastic stadium, a fantastic training ground, and fans who support us every time.
“We have to be honest, sometimes we do not show 100 per cent of what we can do.
“I think everyone, including me, needs to change the things we are doing wrong and change it right now.”
Oviedo was speaking at a Tesco Bank Junior Player’s coaching session taking place at St Matthew’s RC Primary School in Jarrow.
Tesco Bank Junior Players is a community coaching programme jointly led by the Foundation of Light, Newcastle United Foundation and Newcastle Eagles Community Foundation.
He added: “That’s important for me today coming here when times are bad to see them still happy to see us.
“We know we are worried about our position. I would like to come back again when the situation is happier too.”