SIMON MIGNOLET says Sunderland must find a solution to their home sickness if they are to prevail in the relegation dogfight.
Only the bottom four can boast a worst record on their own patch than Sunderland this season, with Martin O’Neill’s side mustering just four victories at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats could only manage a point against 10-man Norwich City last weekend and host Manchester United next Saturday, with the league leaders enjoying a 17-game unbeaten top flight run.
But with crucial subsequent home games to come against Everton, Stoke and Southampton, goalkeeper Mignolet admits Sunderland need to start easing the pressure by making Wearside advantage count.
The Belgian told the Echo: “With the position we’re in, if you don’t win your home games, you don’t make it easy for yourself.
“It’s the nature of the game that if you don’t win at home, then it’s going to be tight. The league is so tight at the moment, everyone knows that.
“There are no bad teams in the league so you have to look at yourself if you’re not picking up the points.”
The United game is the start of four ominous encounters for Sunderland, followed by trips to Chelsea and Newcastle, along with the Stadium of Light outing against bogey team Everton.
But with expectations low for the quartet of games, particularly after a seven-game winless run, Mignolet hopes Sunderland can perform with more freedom.
“If everybody comes back from the international break fighting, why can’t we get a result against United at home?”
However testing Sunderland’s run-in is though, Mignolet knows the Black Cats must take charge of their own destiny, rather than relying on the fate of their relegation rivals.
Wigan’s last-gasp victory over Newcastle last weekend reduced the buffer with the drop zone to four, and the Latics still boast a game in hand, albeit at Manchester City.
And although bottom two Reading and QPR are now well-adrift, fellow strugglers Aston Villa now lie just a point behind Sunderland after two back-to-back wins.
But Mignolet added: “I don’t think we can look at teams around us. We have to get the points for ourselves.
“There’s still space between us and the relegation zone, but we have to make sure we get what we want.
“You know if you don’t get the points you want, the other teams will get closer to you. That’s the nature of football.
“It’s not about performances now, it’s about points.
“We have to make sure we get something out of the games coming up.”