Steve Bruce insists Sunderland’s players have a spring in their step to ensure the summer’s promise isn’t derailed.
The Black Cats’ squad has been in training for the past two days at the Academy of Light in preparation for tonight’s Carling Cup second round tie at Brighton, with Saturday’s derby defeat still fresh in the memory.
Flak has inevitably come the way of Bruce and his players following the 1-0 loss after a close season which promised so much with the arrival of 10 new signings.
Bruce knows Sunderland must respond in a similar manner to last season’s loss against the Magpies, which sparked a four-game unbeaten run, and has been encouraged by the early signs from his players.
“You can sense their disappointment and the determination to put it right was pretty evident in training yesterday,” Bruce told the Echo.
“I hope we can do that tonight, and we’ll have to, because it’ll be a really tough game.
“We had a wonder feel-good factor around the whole place over the summer. We’ve lost a game and we’ve lost it against our local rivals.
“But we can’t let that derail what we’re trying to do here. We have to accept the defeat and the criticism which goes with it.
“The only thing we can do is win the fans over again. Last year we did it and we need to do it again.”
Bruce feels some of the post-match criticism of Sunderland has been unfair after the hosts dominated the opening 45 minutes against the Magpies.
But he accepts Sunderland paid the price for failing to make their pressure count, with the Black Cats lacking a cutting edge in the box.
Bruce added: “We’ve got to erase what happened at the weekend, which is never easy in the North East, and get ourselves up and running again.
“Nobody is going to tell me any different that we murdered them in the first half. But we needed to score.
“How many times have we seen it in the Premier League that if one side dominates and doesn’t take their chances, then you can fall down?
“You don’t make four or five six chances in each half like you will in any other league. That’s why the strikers are paid so much money to stick it in the back of the net.
“Unfortunately, no matter how many times we got down the sides of them, we couldn’t capitalise.
“My judgment is not going to be clouded. I’ve seen all the talk in the papers that Newcastle thoroughly deserved it and it’s nonsense.
“We gave a bad goal away and it cost us in a derby game.
“The only thing we can do is respond in the right manner and that’s winning this cup tie tonight and getting a result at Swansea on Saturday.”