PHIL Bardsley admits Sunderland have dramatically cranked up the pressure on themselves after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against West Brom on Saturday.
The full-back’s scorching free-kick goal helped send Sunderland in at half-time 2-1 up and looking favourites for the win which would have pretty much secured their Premier League survival, as well as returning them to the top half of the division.
But a woeful second-half performance saw two sloppy goals conceded without reply and Bardsley says the unexpected reverse has left the dressing room “shattered” and the heat on for the games coming up.
“When you do not get results at home and from games like that, then I suppose it puts pressure on everyone around the place,” he reflected.
“We have not finished the job we should have done in the first half and, in the second half, we fell to pieces.
“The scenes in the dressing room say it all – everybody is shattered and disappointed with the result.
“In the first half, we were comfortable but in the second-half it became so stretched.
“We took up silly positions and, defensively, gave stupid goals away.
“It was unbelievable how the game went. It became stretched, but we were sloppy as a team.
“Players were out of position and it cost us.
“There are a few nerves around the place, we’ve had a difficult period against top teams but, no disrespect to West Brom, that sort of game should be your bread and butter.
“You have to beat sides like that.
“Not only have we not done that, we have let everybody down too.”
Bardsley knows, of course, that the only way to put things right is to get the victory needed to take the club over the 40-point mark.
But he says Sunderland’s players cannot afford to think that the results will come as a matter of course.
“We have to bounce back and we have to bounce back quickly,” he said.
“The games we have left may look more comfortable on paper than the ones we’ve just had, but we know they are all going to be tough.
“If we did not know that before, we know it now.
“We have Birmingham City away next and we have to start to pick up points again because we need to start to climb that table.”