JOHN O’SHEA insists Sunderland realise the size of their task to avoid the drop after admitting the Black Cats are currently a soft touch for their Premier League rivals.
Shambolic Sunderland succumbed to a sixth successive Premier League loss in Gus Poyet’s first game in charge on Saturday after a harrowing second half collapse at Swansea which saw the hosts net three times in a seven minute spell.
Head coach Poyet has inherited a side who have now made the worst start to a season in Premier League history.
Ahead of next weekend’s Wear-Tyne derby, Sunderland remain rock bottom with just one point and have conceded 20 times in only eight top flight games – six of which have come from set pieces.
Captain O’Shea has made no attempt to mask Sunderland’s problems and concedes “heads drop” when the Black Cats fall behind after what had been an encouraging first half at the Liberty Stadium.
O’Shea told the Echo: “We were under no illusions before the game about the position we’re in in the league.
“When you’re letting teams score that many goals against you, it’s going to be a long, hard season.
“We know where we are in the league and we know what we have to do, we have to win matches.
“There’s only ourselves whose going to help us.
“The manager has come in and we have to show him why he wanted to take this job and how we can get out of this position.
“There’s no better way of doing that than against Newcastle.
“We have to make sure we keep our heads up. They go down too easily at the minute.
“When you see the way the team played in the first half, to what we did in the second half, heads dropped too easily after the first goal went in.
“We need to be stronger mentally in the Premier League.
“Teams are not going to give you easy goals and you have to make them work really hard for the goals they get.”
Sunderland will face a Newcastle side buoyed by a point against Liverpool, despite the first half dismissal of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
But Poyet immediately outlined to his players at the Liberty what he will look to address on the training ground this week to ensure there is a reaction at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
“The manager spoke to us afterwards and made us realise the things we’ll be working on during the week so we can get the reaction we need in a big game for us next weekend,” added O’Shea.
“Without a doubt, it will have been an eye-opener for him. Every game for the rest of the season for us now is going to be huge.
“We’re going up against Newcastle when we’re on the run we’re on. But we need to do something about it very quickly.
“The new lads know how important winning matches is at the minute anyway, but especially against Newcastle.
“We have to really make sure we put in a performance for the fans, but also for ourselves, families, coaches, everyone, because it’s a bad situation.”