Chris Coleman: The only thing that changes the mood at Sunderland is the first team delivering
The appointment of Chris Coleman has offered tentative grounds for optimism amongst a fan base that had been fast losing faith.
An arduous relegation season has so far been followed by much of the same in the second tier.
Coleman’s charismatic presence has been a breath of fresh air in his first week but as his side prepare to face Burton Albion, that sense of a new beginning can only be sustained by improved results and the sight of the Black Cats climbing the league table.
It is a point not lost on the new Sunderland boss, who has urged his side to halt their worrying slide towards the third tier of English football.
He said: “We’re the only ones who can change it, the mood of the club.
“You know we can go out and do as much PR, coming out smiling, getting out in the community, which we should and do do anyway, but that doesn’t change the mood of the club.
“The mood of the club changes with performances of the first team, that’s just how it is.
“Everybody looks at the first team, and we haven’t been getting it right, once we do that the mood changes.
“When you’re at a big club and it is going bad it is a very heavy feeling, it is hard to start pushing it forward again. But when you do it is hard to stop it.”
Coleman has stressed the importance of laying down a clear philosophy and game plan for his side to help them climb away from trouble, and says that will not be altered by the magnitude of the game at the Pirelli Stadium.
Burton, currently occupying the last relegation spot and with five home defeats on the spin, will open up a six point gap on Sunderland if they win.
He said: “It is, it’s huge. That’s the realism, the players know that, but my talk to them won’t be [about if being a six-pointer], ‘if we lose’, ‘if this doesn’t happen’.
“I’ll be saying to them there’s a game plan here, this is how we’re going to go about it our business, this is how we perform well, that’s what I concentrate with the players on.
“We’re not going there to survive for 90 minutes, we shouldn’t go anywhere to do that, we’ve got to go and show ourselves. That’s what we’ll be concentrating on.”
Nigel Clough’s side may well be able to call on talented attacker Joe Mason, who has returned to training following an injury.
Centre-back Jake Buxton is rated at 50-50 but experienced duo Lloyd Dyer and John Brayford have both been ruled out of contention.