Striker Jermain Defoe has urged Sunderland to stick together as the Black Cats endure yet another atrocious start to a Premier League season.
Saturday’s 4-1 home defeat by Arsenal left the Black Cats anchored to the foot of the table without a win and having collected a paltry two points from their opening 10 games, a feat matched only by Manchester City in the 1995-1996 campaign.
They were booed from the pitch on the final whistle after conceding three goals inside seven second-half minutes to leave manager David Moyes under increasing pressure barely three months into his reign.
However, 34-year-old Defoe remained bullish as he reflected upon a another difficult afternoon, and insisted the club’s plight was not getting him down.
He said: “No, not really because I always look forward t the next game. I’m a person that even when you are scoring goals, you always look forward to the next game because you want to keep it going, and if you play games where you miss chances, you think, ‘I just want the next game to come around so I can put things right, I want to score in the next game’.
“That’s the good thing about football, it’s always the next game. Even when you are playing well, the next game comes around so quickly and you can just look forward to it.
“That’s the mentality we have got to have, just ‘Okay, forget about today, the next game…’, and I’m sure the manager is thinking the same. We prepare for the next game.
“There’s a lot of football to be played, there’s a long way to go. You have got to be strong, you have got to stick together, be strong and turn it around.”
That next game comes at Bournemouth next Saturday ahead of an international break which would provide chairman Ellis Short with time to contemplate the situation.
There is no appetite to dispense with yet another manager – Moyes is the ninth man to hold the job on a permanent basis in less than eight years – with he and chief executive Martin Bain having been asked to implement a long-term plan to address the problems which have afflicted the club in recent seasons.
But there is very real danger that if things do not improve rapidly, Sunderland will be cast further adrift than the seven points which separated them from safety on Saturday evening.
Arsenal led at the break through Alexis Sanchez’s 19th-minute header, but should have been further ahead, and they were made to pay when Defoe levelled from the penalty spot in front of England boss Gareth Southgate after Petr Cech had felled Duncan Watmore with 25 minutes remaining.
But substitute Olivier Giroud’s double, coupled with a fourth by Sanchez, had totally changed the complexion of the game by the time the clock ticked around to 78 minutes.
Told of Southgate’s presence, Defoe admitted a return to international football was not on his agenda.
He said: “I’m not even worried about that. To be honest, there’s no point in me even thinking about that because even last season all the goals I scored, I still didn’t get a call-up, so I’m not even bothered about that, to be honest, because there’s no more I can do really.
“I just want to focus on my club. Obviously I’ll never turn my back on England because it’s my country and I love playing for my country, but first and foremost, I just want to score goals here and help the team, help the players and hopefully we can get that first win.”