With almost a third of the season gone, struggling Sunderland are already running out of time as they bid to stave off relegation to the Championship.
Defeat to Southampton was the club’s eighth of the season. In just 12 games.
But if we can’t win a game then we have to make sure we don’t lose it.Fabio Borini
With just six points from their opening dozen fixtures and a goal difference of -13, the Black Cats are already four points from safety.
Four games - and three defeats - into Sam Allardyce’s reign as Sunderland boss, there have been few signs that they can drag themselves free from trouble.
Changing systems and personnel hasn’t resulted in an upturn in fortunes, with the exception of the biannual derby win.
It is a grim picture but one striker Fabio Borini is desperate to change.
And the Italian sees the third international break of the season - which doesn’t see Sunderland in action again until two weeks tonight away at Crystal Palace - as a key period.
A crucial time for Allardyce and his squad to find a winning formula and system. Before it really is too late.
Borini doesn’t believe defeats to Everton and Southampton can be solely attributed to the system though, with Sunderland switching between a 3-5-2 and a 4-2-3-1.
“It is not that [the system],” reflected Borini, who came on as a half-time sub in the 1-0 defeat to the Saints.
“It is the manager’s job to find the best way to play but he has just come in and needs time to know all the players but we don’t have much time to see everyone, I think that is the difficulty.
“Now, with the international break he will have more time, even if not all the players are in.
“More time for him to think and more time for us to get back in shape and get fitter and build on the ideas of the manager,” added the 24-year-old, who joined on a permanent deal from Liverpool in the summer.
Allardyce is Borini’s second manager this season, with the Sunderland squad having to quickly get used to another way of working.
But Borini admits the players cannot depend solely on the ex-Bolton and West Ham boss and have to start taking more responsibility themselves on the pitch.
“The manager is very clear and straight up,” added the former Chelsea youth.
“He says clearly what he wants the players to do on the pitch.
“If we are out there and see something different than what the manager said, then we need to adapt.
“We can’t always wait for the manager to say.
“We are the players that go on the pitch.
“It takes a little bit [of time] for a few players to get used to a different idea of football because they are used to something else.”
This two-week period will be a crucial period for Allardyce and his coaching staff, even if several first team players will be away on international duty.
Improving their game management will be high on the agenda, with Sunderland throwing away points they can ill-afford to lose in the back-to-back defeats to Everton and Ronald Koeman’s Southampton.
The point is not lost on Borini.
“It is a little bit frustrating because we cannot win the games,” added Borini.
“We created chances at Everton and got back to 2-2 but then threw the game away.
“Against Southampton, it was similar.
“We were in the game at 0-0 and one point against a good side like Southampton is a good point, that is the frustrating thing.
“We try to get every point we can.
“But if we can’t win a game then we have to make sure we don’t lose it.
“We gave it away against Southampton and against Everton, you don’t need to throw away games like that.
“Kamikaze - you know the end result - he dies all the time.
“Southampton was not a good result and not what we want.
“We want survival and to play good football.”