Sam Allardyce says Sunderland must avoid a ‘must-win’ anxiety, even if the Black Cats are playing a game of catch-up in the survival battle.
Sunderland went gung-ho for three points after they clawed back a two-goal deficit at Everton last weekend, but ended up being spanked 6-2 when the Toffees wreaked havoc on the counter-attack.
If it’s a point, respect it, because it will ultimately lead to a win because it will breed confidenceSam Allardyce
Allardyce’s side - lying second bottom before this weekend’s games - will need to produce a dramatic upturn in results if they are to avoid the drop, with Sunderland in a worse position points-wise than at the same stage of 2013-14 when Gus Poyet oversaw the ‘Great Escape’.
But with 27 games still to go, Allardyce says Sunderland’s players have to realise that every point is invaluable in the battle for survival.
“There’s been moments where we should have picked up points, which would have made all the difference,” said Allardyce.
“That’s what we’ve got to start believing.
“We’re not in a position where we HAVE to win the game we’re playing next.
“We’re more in a position where we have to make sure we don’t lose it and continue doing that.
“If it’s a point, respect it, because it will ultimately lead to a win because it will breed confidence.
“But if you keep going to try to win it and lose it, then you’re in a pickle.”
Despite their lowly position, Sunderland’s plight could feasibly be more encouraging.
Sunderland came away with nothing after a late defeat against Spurs when they deserved at least a share of the spoils, while they threw away a two-goal lead against West Ham in Dick Advocaat’s final game in charge.
“I was speaking to Brace (Paul Bracewell, assistant manager) about what’s happened before this season,” added Allardyce.
“There was Tottenham here, last minute 1-0. That’s a point.
“There was West Ham here, 2-0 up. That’s two points dropped.
“There are small moments in a game which take things away from you and we’ve got to stop those small moments from happening.
“When Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool manager) talks about an extra 10 yards, I’m talking about an extra few seconds of concentration to make sure you get it right and don’t concede.
“Those small moments all put together make a massive difference in terms of points.
“It could be 10 points or more that we have at this moment in time, and then our situation doesn’t look quite as desperate as it is.”