David Moyes has insisted he is not being defeatist by admitting Sunderland are engaged in yet another Premier League relegation fight.
The Black Cats boss’ comments following Sunday’s 2-1 derby defeat by Middlesbrough were met with dismay by some fans, who had hoped for better this season following four successive – and ultimately successful – battles to preserve the club’s top-flight status.
Moyes has high hopes of improving on that record and steering Sunderland into calmer waters, but he knows there is no quick fix.
He said: “I tell it pretty straight. The truth of it is, does it need me to say it? The club has probably just avoided relegation in the last four years or so.
“I don’t want that to happen, I want to have a team which gets us up the league. But it can’t happen overnight, and I have reiterated that. It can’t happen overnight and I can’t change it overnight.
“You have got to remember, I didn’t even come in right away, and you have got to say what has happened form the (final) day of last season to this period now?
“There were no new players at all until I came in two or three weeks ago, so there was a period there when nothing happened.
“All I am saying is we need to make changes to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. At the moment, we have got to make sure that we’re not near the bottom, but I’m also a realist as well.”
The disappointment of back-to-back league defeats by Manchester City and Boro has been exacerbated by a growing injury crisis which has seen keeper Vito Mannone and defender John O’Shea added to a casualty list which already includes Billy Jones, Lamine Kone, Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff, Sebastian Larsson and Fabio Borini, and a testing summer transfer market.
In the circumstances, Moyes could be forgiven for feeling Wednesday evening’s EFL Cup tie against League One Shrewsbury was not a major priority, although that will not be the case.
The Scot said: “You take every game as it comes. We know that upsets can happen and we have got to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Moyes knows that from personal experience having bowed out of the FA Cup at the hands of Shrewsbury as Everton manager in January 2003.
He said: “It was probably one of the worst days I had as Everton manager. I had a few, but that was probably one of them.”
In the meantime, the club will continue to work on its transfer targets with Rubin Kazan midfielder Yann M’Vila, who spent last season at the Stadium of Light, high on the list, and the task of keeping want-away defender Kone on Wearside.
Moyes said: “I do know that there have been talks regarding M’Vila, and I do know that Lamine Kone will return for treatment tomorrow on his back injury.
“I have said all along Kone will stay.”