GUS Poyet acknowledges that the time frame is narrowing on Sunderland’s Premier League survival bid.
The Black Cats added to their points total on Saturday thanks to a goalless draw away from home, but Poyet noted his side could really have done with a win against an under-powered West Ham side.
And the Uruguayan said that until a victory or two is strung together by the Wearsiders, time is going to be against them.
“Closing the gap between us and the teams above us is one of the things I keep looking at,” he said.
“There is going to be a time when it becomes practically impossible.
“But the only thing we can do is to believe in what we do, to make sure we play like we did on Saturday, and we will start winning games.
“Sometimes it’s not in your hands, there are decisions that go against you, other factors.
“But the two games we’ve played away from home that were normal – West Ham and Aston Villa – we got a point in each.
“The other ones were abnormal – two own goals, two sendings off, a wrong decision from the referee, always something happened.
“So I’m not asking for a lot, I’m asking for normal games and that will give us a chance.”
A failure to beat West Ham means that regardless of what happens against Norwich City this weekend, Sunderland will spend Christmas Day bottom of the Premier League pile.
That, of course, sparked talk of the Curse of Christmas – the fact that, apart from West Brom in 2004-05, every Premier League team which has been bottom at Christmas has been relegated in May.
Poyet, though, will take heart from Sunderland not playing like a down and out, bottom of the league side during his time in charge.
“Before West Brom survived, there was no-one,” he shrugged. “It’s just a statistic, and it’s real – if you’re at the bottom you’re the worst team.
“But I’d hope you would agree with me that, on Saturday, we weren’t the worst team in the league.
“Without a doubt, we didn’t look like the worst team in the Premier League.”