Sunderland boss Martin O’Neil has admitted that his players are struggling for confidence as their disappointing run continued with a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich on Sunday.
Despite the Black Cats having a man extra for a whole hour, after Canaries keeper Mark Bunn was sent off in the first half, they could not capitalize on their numerical advantage and had to settle for a point as Craig Gardener’s penalty cancelled out Wes Hoolahan’s opener.
The result has added further pressure on both O’ Neil and the players and without a win in seven, they have now found themselves in the midst of a relegation scrap. They are currently four points above the drop zone but 18th place Wigan have a game in hand. O’ Neil admits that they are all struggling to deal with the current situation.
“The pressure has got to the players,” he said in The Sun.
“When you are on the run we are at the moment then confidence is a wee bit low. We should have made the extra man count – it is frustrating.”
Sunderland next host Manchester United after the International break, before tough games against Chelsea, Newcastle and Everton which could make or break the Black Cats season. It is difficult to see how they will pick up many points from those games to fight off relegation, and O’ Neil admits that the International break may come at a bad time and he hopes that his players come back in one piece.
O’Neill added: “I wouldn’t stop at the next four – they’re all tough games but the whole league’s been tough for us.
“My worry is we have players on international duty and won’t see them for some time. I hope they come back in one piece.”