SEB LARSSON insists the Sunderland dressing room is a much happier place under Gus Poyet, despite the Black Cats slipping back to the Premier League’s basement.
Sunderland once again prop up the top flight table after a fifth successive away defeat last weekend was coupled by Crystal Palace recording only a second victory of the campaign at Hull City.
Yet midfielder Larsson insists head coach Poyet has injected the belief into Sunderland’s players that there is route out of the relegation zone after the Black Cats have taken six points from the Uruguayan’s five league games at the helm.
Poyet inherited a squad of players whose confidence had hit rock bottom under predecessor Paolo Di Canio and could boast just a solitary point from the opening eight games.
“Over the last month, the spirits have really, really been lifted,” said Larsson.
“It’s a good place to be around.
“I know where we are in the league and we’re not kidding ourselves. But it’s a much better place to be now.
“I think we all see light at the end of the tunnel for the season. We can all see a way out of trouble and we’re quite confident we can do that.
“We’re closer to safety now than we were a few weeks ago, which is easy to forget.
“I definitely see a lot more positives now and a much brighter season ahead than I did a month or two ago.”
If Sunderland are to avoid the drop, they need to find a solution to their travel sickness after taking just one point on the road all season.
Poyet’s three away games have all boasted a freakish element, with Sunderland conceding two own goals at Swansea, seeing two men sent off at Hull and then Wes Brown bafflingly dismissed at Stoke last Saturday.
But Larsson realises the excuses count for nothing when the Black Cats keep returning to Wearside with nothing to show for their efforts.
“The three away games we’ve had under the new manager have been unbelievable,” said the Swedish international.
“But we’re not going to blame anything on bad luck, we’re just going to keep fighting hard.
“It’s down to us as a team and the performances, which I do think have gone up significantly over the last few weeks.
“It’s now about converting those into results.
“We’ve had a couple of decent ones at home, but we’ve got to do that away from home too.
“We can’t put ourselves in the position where we’re fighting an uphill battle all the time away from home.”
Brown will at least be available for Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa after the former England international’s red card was overturned by the FA’s disciplinary panel earlier this week.
Larsson added: “Everyone knows it wasn’t a red card, but anyone can make mistakes and obviously the referee has made one.
“But we’re happy the red card has been overturned, which we were very confident would be the case.
“It made it tough on the day and probably ruined our chances of getting any points from that particular game.
“But it’s in the past, we’ve got Wes available again and we move on.”