As Sunderland face one of their toughest Premier League predicaments yet, John O’Shea says he and his team-mates know another great escape is not inevitable.
The Black Cats have developed something of a reputation for escapology in recent years, but last weekend’s results have left them six points adrift of safety and looking in greater danger than ever before.
Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Swansea City all underlined their recent revivals with wins and momentum does not seem to be with the Wearsiders.
O’Shea is a veteran of Sunderland’s modern Premier League era and says the fine margins in the division mean nothing is inevitable.
Jermain Defoe has twice struck the woodwork with the game finely poised in Sunderland’s previous two games, only for the team to be punished defensively for lapses in concentration soon after.
O’Shea said: “You have to be careful just saying, ‘yeah, we’ve done it before so we’ll do it again’, without a doubt.
“The Premier League is a tough, tough place.
“You look at the teams, you look at Everton where we were well in the game, you’re half an inch from making it 1-1 then the next thing you’re 2-0 down and can’t take anything from the game.”
Sunderland face a crucial game against a Burnley a week on Saturday, seeking to prevent the gap to 17th approaching double figures ahead of the international break.
When they return to action, they face a crucial run of three games in a nine days against Watford, Leicester City and Manchester United.
The fixture list offers some hope and while O’Shea admits that results elsewhere are no secret to the Sunderland squad, they remain convinced that their fate remains in their own hands.
He said: “Everything is prepared right for us, facilities and that, everything is built up for us to put in a performance and if we do all that hopefully that bit of luck swings your way and you can get the result that you need.
“Ultimately, we have to focus on ourselves. Naturally you look to other results, you see what’s happened.
“But, ultimately, as we know ourselves from the last few years, if we do our own job, that takes care of it.
“But it’s something we have to avoid without a doubt.”