NICKLAS Bendtner insists Sunderland’s players share the sense of disappointment over an indifferent start to the season.
But the Danish international has urged supporters to lay off under-fire boss Steve Bruce as the Black Cats prepare for tomorrow’s crunch encounter at fellow under-achievers Bolton Wanderers.
Six points from the opening eight games have left Sunderland just a solitary place above the Premier League drop zone, with only goal difference separating them from the third bottom Trotters.
Bruce has received stinging criticism as a consequence, but on-loan Arsenal hitman Bendtner believes it is still too early in the campaign to be calling for the manager’s head.
Bendtner told the Echo: “I can understand people are getting frustrated, everyone wants to win and six points after eight games is not good enough.
“We feel the same within the team and the staff as well.
“But to be talking about sacking people so early on and not giving full support to the manager is not fair. We’ve got a good set-up here and I’m sure it will turn around quickly.”
While Bendtner has leapt to the defence of his manager, the 23-year-old admits tomorrow’s trip to the Reebok Stadium is something of a “must-win” game for Sunderland after just one victory all season.
Bruce’s side have enjoyed bright spells in the majority of the games, the latter part of the first half in last weekend’s defeat at Arsenal being a prime example, yet have struggled for consistency over 90 minutes.
“It’s almost a must-win game for us,” said the striker. “It will be difficult against a side like Bolton, but we obviously have to do our best to get the three points. I’ve played before at Bolton and it’s not easy.
“We need to play on a consistent level and start winning games. No disrespect, but if you look at games like Swansea and Norwich, they should be games we’re winning.
“We haven’t played well enough, it’s quite simple.
“It’s not good enough to just play for patches in games, you need to consistently keep playing a high level throughout a match. We need to try to get that winning feeling because this is a team that should be confident in its own ability.”
Bendtner returns to the fold tomorrow after he was ineligible for the defeat at the Emirates against his parent club.
He is likely to partner full debutant Connor Wickham in attack, with Stephane Sessegnon, who led the line against the Gunners, expected to move to the flanks.
“It was unfortunate last weekend, but the rules are there that you can’t play against your parent club which is fair enough,” added Bendtner.
“It would have been fun to play against my old team as well, but it wasn’t to be.”