Under-pressure Swansea City boss Bob Bradley admits that tomorrow’s Premier League crunch clash with Sunderland is a “cup final” for the Welshmen.
Swansea slipped to the foot of the table following last week’s 5-0 drubbing at Tottenham, while the Black Cats climbed to third-bottom spot with a win over Leicester.
Bradley, with just one win in seven matches in charge of the Swans, has been studying his players’ attitude in training in the build-up to the Sunderland game.
“We had a little run of games where we were quite consistent and in a perfect world we would like to continue that,” said the American.
“But a loss like Tottenham means we have got to look hard again.
“When you go into a big game like this – in a way a cup final for us – you have got to make sure you have a group of guys who will be ready for that kind of challenge.
“That’s the work that goes on all week – talking to the guys and watching them to see which ones are not fazed by the challenge.”
Swansea beat Crystal Palace in their last home game, but the Spurs defeat was a huge setback. Bradley added on swanseacity.net: “I know when you lose a game by the scoreline that we lost by last weekend, it looks bad for the supporters and for confidence and there’s a lot there to jump on.
“But I also know we are not the first team in the history of the Premier League to be beaten by a scoreline that’s got away from them.
“Now we have to turn it around. We have to step on the field to play against a team who are around us in the table and look to win. For sure, this feels like the biggest game since I came in.”
Swansea would move back above the Wearsiders if they win at the Liberty Stadium.
To do so, they will need to keep on-song Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe quiet.
Bradley said of the former Tottenham and Portsmouth star: “Everyone knows he has made a career out of savviness in the way he moves and lethal finishing.
“He still finds those little cracks and those little chinks. If you allow him to do that, he scores goals.
“He is a striker who lives off the tiniest bit of space, so we have to be aware of where he is and close him down.”
With nine goals conceded in the last two matches, Bradley is demanding an improvement in defence.
He said: “We have to defend better in all areas. We are not going to survive if we continue to concede the number of goals we have. There have been moments along the way where I’ve felt we have made a step in the right direction, but there has to be more consistency.”
Reflecting on training this week, Bradley added: “A lot of work has gone on to make sure we don’t lose sight of the positives while acknowledging that some things have to be better.
“We have reminded the players that they took four points from the two games before Spurs and there some things we felt good about after those two games.”
Former Sunderland loan midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng is out with a toe injury, while centre-back Federico Fernandez again misses out with a broken toe.