SEB LARSSON says Sunderland cannot afford to be cast adrift at the foot of the Premier League, even though the season remains in its infancy.
Four points currently separate basement boys Sunderland from fourth-bottom West Ham, with the Black Cats’ tally standing at just one from the opening six league outings.
Midfielder Larsson is not panicking at Sunderland’s predicament, with 96 points still to play for this season, even if Kevin Ball’s side face a daunting task against Manchester United tomorrow.
But the Swede realises that Sunderland must keep the buffer with the safety mark at a manageable level, even if he acknowledges that talk is cheap given the Black Cats’ return from the early exchanges of the campaign.
“We’re in a situation now where we need the points and we need them quite quickly,” said Larsson.
“We know there’s loads of games, but you don’t want too big a gap to build.
“You want to get above that relegation zone quickly and then try to push on because I know we’re more than capable of doing that.
“Since I came to the club, we’ve had some ups and downs – it’s been a curvy spell.
“But you’ve just got to keep going and learn from the mistakes; keep believing in what you’re doing.
“People are going to read this and say ‘you’re bottom of the league, how can you say that’, but that’s the feeling in the squad.
“All we can do is go out and prove that on the pitch and hopefully we can start tomorrow against Man United.
“We’re not naive, we’re not stupid, thinking it’s going to sort itself out.
“We are where we are because we’ve not picked up points. We’ve lost five out of six games, which is nowhere near good enough.
“We all know that it’s our responsibility to put it right.
“A lot of fans are frustrated, but it’s up to us to prove them wrong.”
Larsson is at the start of only his third season at the Stadium of Light, yet the 28-year-old is already working under his fourth manager.
The former Birmingham City man has been encouraged by performances in Ball’s two games in charge though and hopes the Black Cats can test a Manchester United side who have made their worst start to a season for 24 years.
“It’s part of football (changing managers),” said Larsson. “Personally, I’ve been through it before and I’m sure I’ll go through it again in my career.
“Sometimes players come and go, and managers do too. We’re just looking forwards to Man United and starting to pick up some points because that’s what we need to do.
“Looking back on last weekend’s game against Liverpool, I felt there were quite a few positives to take out of the game.”
He added: “Obviously Man United have had a bit of a tricky start by their standards.
“They’ve been away in Europe during the week and the two teams are absolutely desperate for points for different reasons. I just hope that we’re the team that’s going to come out on top.
“But, for sure, we’ll give everything we’ve got to make sure that happens.”