Chris Coleman expecting 'uncomfortable' afternoon for Sunderland as they bid for another home win
Chris Coleman insists that the clash with Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon is a bigger game for Sunderland than last week's win over Fulham.
That 1-0 win ended Sunderland's home hoodoo after 364 days but a defeat to Steve Cotterill's team would land them back in the relegation zone.
Birmingham are bottom of the league and two points below the Black Cats.
Coleman expects the game to be 'uncomfortable' at times and wants his side to embrace the challenge.
He said: “It’s the bigger game because we’re playing against a team who are fighting for the same thing we are and that’s to get away from the situation we find ourselves in.
“It’s a bigger game because it’s the next game so it doesn’t matter what happened last week – it’s gone, it’s done and the next game’s always the biggest.
“We’ve got to face up to the facts, which is that from the first minute it’s going to be scary and pretty uncomfortable. That’s the excitement of football, you never know which way it’s going to go and it’s about staying in the game, staying in the moment, making sure we’re focused in those scary moments and finding a way through it.
“You have to enjoy that challenge if you’re going to get anything positive out of it," he said.
“All week we’ve been looking at this knowing how it was going to be, and that’s a tough, wrong-end-of-the-table battle for 90-plus minutes.
“Whoever comes out on top, it will be a big relief. Normally after a game you never really feel happy, it’s more relief. I felt happy last week because of the effect it had on everybody because it had been so long.
“If we do get the magical three points against Birmingham it will be like normal, it’s that relief that everything we’ve worked on has gone the way we wanted it to go.
“But it’s absolutely bigger than last week because of the opposition."
Coleman admits it was a major relief to end the winless run at home but says his squad must now grind out consistent results to make the Stadium of Light a fortress again.
He said: “With every game that passes when you haven’t won and you’re facing a team in and around where you are, it makes it bigger.
“I’ve got to be careful not to send the wrong messages to people that it’s okay now we’ve won a home game. It’s absolutely not okay, it’s not okay where we are, it’s not okay we’ve only won one home game in a year. These are all things we have to improve.
“We have to improve on our position in the league, our performances and how we’re perceived at the Stadium of Light, our own back yard, our home. That’s what we’ve got to protect.
“We’ve got to make teams come here and fear us, not think it’s a good opportunity for them to come and take points off us.
“The way to do that is by consistently grinding out the performance.
“The crowd will grow and swell if our performances are good and results are good," he added.
“There’s no other way to get them back and keep them.
“If we’ve got a team that’s worthy of them coming to see us – and we earn that by our performances – the numbers will come.”