Lee Cattermole admits Sunderland are entering a make-or-break period of the season where they MUST turn their fortunes around.
Dick Advocaat’s concern during these formative stages of the campaign has been that Sunderland could be cast adrift of their relegation rivals, while their new players find their feet and fitness.
For us, we’ve got to put this defeat to bed straight away, move on and then look to next week, which is a real big gameLee Cattermole
But there is an increasingly ominous look to the Premier League table, with winless Sunderland managing just two points from their opening seven games after Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Manchester United inflicted a third successive defeat on the Black Cats.
Next weekend’s visit of West Ham begins a two-month spell of fixtures against teams who all finished outside of last season’s top six, and midfielder Cattermole is under no illusions about the magnitude of this Autumn period.
“For us, we’ve got to put this defeat to bed straight away, move on and then look to next week, which is a real big game,” said Cattermole.
“And then we’ve got five or six games after the international break where we need to turn our season around.
“As a group, as a squad, we need to really focus for the next two to three weeks - don’t switch off and get ready for the next stretch of games.
“They’re going to be massive because we can’t be going adrift of teams.
“We’ve been there before, but I believe there’s enough in the dressing room.
“We need to focus on this next week and get that first win.”
Despite being identified by Advocaat as partially at fault for Man United’s opening goal, Cattermole was far more assured than he had been at the start of the season after three successive games on the bench.
With Cattermole back in the side, Sunderland certainly looked much more solid until they conceded just 40 seconds before the half-time whistle.
But that goal, coupled with Wayne Rooney’s quick-fire deflection after the restart, proved fatal to the Black Cats, who were again forced to scratch around for positives, rather than points, at the final whistle.
“We sensed the frustration in the crowd in the first half. I think they had two shots,” added the Teessider.
“But then we lose a goal right on half-time.
“Then we came out for the second half and I can’t really comment on it as to why, but when the goal came, it was very disappointing.
“As a team, we went there believing we could get something.
“We were much more organised as a team, which is a positive and that’s something we have to carry on doing.
“But when United get a lead, they’re killing games at the minute and you can see they’re a very good side.”