Dick Advocaat admits Sunderland need to find a change of mentality if they are to sustain their Premier League existence.
There had been little to separate Sunderland and Norwich during a scrappy opening 25 minutes on Saturday, with goalmouth action at a premium for both sides.
But once Norwich’s Russell Martin broke the deadlock, Sunderland’s response was feeble, with the Black Cats wilting and showing none of the fight which saw them beat the drop during Advocaat’s nine-game stint at the end of last season.
Advocaat said: “It is an easy group to work with. At training, they give everything.
“They’re good people, but we need to find a different mentality from what we have.
“The first part of the game was reasonable without being really dangerous.
“But there are a lot of questions for myself. I am responsible for that.
“They gave everything for the club to stay up.
“But I said many times that many players were at the top, and you cannot make them better. It’s going down rather than getting better.”
The sentiment was shared by captain Lee Cattermole, who admits that Sunderland are “unrecognisable” from the side which ended last season.
“We were hoping that we would start the season the way we ended last season, but we are almost unrecognisable at times and that is the disappointing thing,” said Cattermole.
“The Sunderland teams I have been in have always fought for each other and at the minute we are not doing that.”