Sam Allardyce has challenged Sunderland’s players to make themselves proud by turning around the club’s fortunes in the space of four days.
Sunderland can further narrow the gap with safety if they can secure back-to-back Premier League wins for only the second time this season by triumphing at fourth bottom Swansea tonight.
As a squad of players, we’ve all got to stick together and motivate each other.
It will be the second away game of a draining week for Sunderland, with the Black Cats barely getting chance to catch breath before they head to title-chasing Spurs on Saturday lunchtime.
But Allardyce wants his players to shrug off the physical demands of their fixture schedule and secure two pivotal results on the road, ahead of an equally crucial Stadium of Light encounter against Bournemouth.
Allardyce said: “As a squad of players, we’ve all got to stick together and motivate each other, and gee each other up in this week.
“Let’s see if we can come out at the end of it feeling proud of what we’ve done by getting two results in the next two games.
“I was again pleased with the performance at Arsenal last weekend, but disappointed with that lapse of concentration for five minutes.
“That came about by us not making sure we got defensively better when they brought two players on – including (Aaron) Ramsey, who is their most prolific midfield goalscorer. We didn’t take notice of that.”
Allardyce has been vociferous in his criticism of the Premier League’s decision to postpone the trip to the Liberty Stadium by 24 hours, to give Swansea extra recovery time from Sunday’s FA Cup third round clash at Oxford.
But in a week which sees Sunderland travel 1,800 miles, the Black Cats have less than 72 hours before they kick-off at Spurs, while Swansea are not in action again until next Monday.
Allardyce had feared that Swansea would rest all their key figures in the FA Cup and he was proved right after the Welsh side made 10 changes in the 3-2 defeat against League Two Oxford.
“I think I’ve proven beyond any reasonable doubt that I was right,” added Allardyce.
“But we can’t do anything about it now. We have to just get on with it in a professional manner.
“We hope that next time around that some club doesn’t suffer the same misfortune.
“But we have to deal with it and make sure it doesn’t affect us.
“We have to go to Swansea first and foremost to get a result.
“That’s even more critical now because the time factor in recovery between Swansea and Tottenham is so short that it gives us less of a chance to get us a result at White Hart Lane than it should have done.”