Chris Coleman on the improving mood in the Sunderland dressing room and playing at the Den

Chris Coleman has detected a change in the mood amongst the Sunderland players and has called on them to keep building a siege mentality.

Friday, 2nd March 2018, 4:00 pm
Sunderland manager Chris Coleman.

Chris Coleman has detected a change in the mood amongst the Sunderland players and has called on them to keep building a siege mentality.

The Black Cats twice fought back from a goal down to draw against Middlesbrough last weekend, and despite remaining bottom of the table, the gap to safety has increased by just one point.

Saturday’s opponents Millwall have won three games in a row, but Coleman has challenges his players to perform with bravery in what is certain to be a hostile atmosphere.

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He said: “I certainly have in the last two games. I can feel it.

“It’s because of that siege mentality, and it has to continue because otherwise we won’t give ourselves a chance.

“And we are in with a chance – we are in with a great chance.

“I know if you look at it and see Sunderland are bottom, blah, blah, blah, but we have been in the bottom three for some time and yet we are still in with a huge chance of getting out from where we are.

“That’s what we have to hang on to.

“We have to have a siege mentality, we have to think that no-one wants us to do it, no-one wants us to get away from where we are, everyone is happy to see us in the mire and in turmoil.

“That’s what can spur you on.

“We have to have that siege mentality home and away, and turn it into a real positive in terms of performances.

“I’ve seen that in the last two games, but they are gone and it is all about tomorrow.

“It will certainly be a hostile environment tomorrow,” he added.

“It’s not just about going and defending for 90 minutes and kicking and fighting and scrapping, although we have to have a little bit of that, we also need to be brave in possession of the ball and try to create and make chances and score.

“We have to be courageous and do that as a team.

“We have to recognise when we are in a bit of trouble, when the scary moments come, we have to dig deep, and then when the game opens up we have to go on and take advantage.”

Coleman is well accustomed to the atmosphere at the Den, having played in a number of London derbies while playing for Crystal Palace in the early 1990s.

He hopes the atmosphere can inspire his players.

“Palace and Millwall aren’t the best of friends! We had some fantastic ding-dongs, proper London derbies, feisty, but I used to love playing at The Den in that atmosphere,” he said.

“I remember we had one or two interesting journeys into the ground by coach!

“You could smell it in the air when you get there, and you have to be prepared for that, but I used to relish that – we all did at Palace.

“We used to love the games against Millwall, whether they be at The Den or at Selhurst.

“You want to play in atmospheres like that where it is a bit spiky, it should get the best out of you.”