SUNDERLAND’S inability to secure all three points against Norwich City was made all the more frustrating by the results of those around them in the relegation battle.
Crystal Palace, Fulham, Cardiff, West Ham and Aston Villa all suffered defeats, yet the Black Cats could only narrow the gap with the safety mark to four points.
Goalkeeper Vito Mannone admits that was Sunderland’s chance to claw back some of the deficit with the teams above them and they blew it.
But while there is a sense of doom and gloom at the Stadium of Light, there are also heightened relegation fears among those other sides scrapping at the wrong end of the table.
And with all of those clubs embroiled in the battle to remain in the Premier League too, summer signing Mannone says someone has to avoid the drop, so why can’t it be Sunderland?
Mannone told the Echo: “We knew it was an important day against Norwich. We looked at the fixtures before and we knew that other teams would possibly not get all the points.
“It was our chance; at home against Norwich and we didn’t take it.
“But we’re not the only team in our position.
“Some teams have to climb the table and come out of the situation.
“You just need to believe it and do your job every day, and do your best.
“We’ve shown we are a good team.”
The stalemate against the Canaries was Sunderland’s third goalless draw in a row against teams lying around them in the table.
And while a point would be welcomed in Boxing Day’s trip to Champions League-chasing Everton, Mannone knows Sunderland need to turn draws into wins, if they are to stand any chance of avoiding relegation.
The Italian added: “I don’t think we can get 21 draws. We’ve got tough away games now and so really, it’s at home where we need to take points.
“Saturday wasn’t enough.
“Teams like Norwich will defend for their lives.
“It’s easy to battle it out when you’ve got big opposition and it opens up a little bit because they want to attack you.
“It’s much more difficult when you’ve got teams who’ve watched you, know how you play and you’ve got to keep the rhythm and keep passing the ball around you.”