LEE Cattermole insists Sunderland are still on track for their top eight objective, despite suffering their heaviest defeat of the campaign.
Skipper Cattermole had little defence or explanation for the depths the Black Cats reached at the Hawthorns on Saturday, after West Brom’s 4-0 rout inflicted Sunderland’s first loss by more than one goal since May.
It was hardly ideal preparation for this weekend’s Tyne-Wear derby, even if Sunderland remain ninth in the Premier League despite the gap with the bottom half narrowing.
But Cattermole is confident there will be a reaction at the Sports Direct Arena on Sunday lunchtime and believes one setback should not overshadow the remarkable turnaround in the club’s fortunes under Martin O’Neill.
Cattermole told the Echo: “We’ll pull together because we’ve still got a lot to play for this season.
“We’re still in the FA Cup and the aim is to finish in eighth – and we’re still on course for that.
“When the gaffer took over three months ago, we’d have definitely taken where we are now, so we can’t get too disheartened.
“It’ll be a tough week in the build-up to next weekend, but I think it’ll give everyone a gee-up and put a spring back in our step to say ‘come on then, let’s see what we’re all about’.
“It’ll be a good game against Newcastle and it’s something we’re looking forward to.
“But after a game like Saturday, I don’t think it matters who we play next week.
“We’ve got to regroup and move on from it. The lads probably can’t wait to get back into it.”
Sunderland never recovered from Peter Odemwingie’s third-minute opener and when the Nigerian doubled his tally to hand West Brom an unassailable three-goal lead three minutes into the second half, the Black Cats’ hopes of a comeback were effectively ended.
“We are human, we do make mistakes and on Saturday we didn’t show up,” said Cattermole (right).
“From the heights we were up against Arsenal and then to go to West Brom and put in a poor performance like that, we’re all looking for reasons why.
“But I think just in general, we weren’t together as a team. We weren’t pressing together, we were giving the ball away and making wrong decisions.
“I just thought everything on the day went wrong, even though in the second half we had a few chances.
“If we’d have scored, there might have been a little change in the game, but it wasn’t to be.
“They were sloppy goals to concede, goals that we don’t usually give away.
“We’ve been pretty solid at the back and been a really hard team to beat.
“West Brom will have been wondering how Sunderland had done so well in recent weeks, with the way we turned up.”