Sunderland need to be stronger and treat Bristol City game '˜like a final'
'We have seen it time and time again, teams start off poorly and end up challenging for play-offs and beyond,' said Brentford goalkeeper Daniel Bentley, insisting his team had not underestimated Sunderland after shipping three first-half goals on Satuirday.
It is a line used by players and management alike on Wearside, but one that seems more and more fanciful when used in connection with the Black Cats after each passing game.
Sunderland’s winless run continues, with the 3-3 draw at Brentford bringing a relegation scrap closer to reality.
Pressure is mounting, not least on manager Simon Grayson, and left-back Bryan Oviedo, who embarrassed Bentley with his first-half corner which led to an own goal from the keeper, admits his team will have to approach this weekend’s home Championship clash with Bristol City like a final.
The 27-year-old also said that his shock goal, which put Sunderland 2-1 up late in the first half at Griffin Park, was a calculated plot to exploit the extreme conditions.
“I tried to put the ball really close to the goalkeeper because that is what you do on a windy day,” said the Costa Rican international.
“It was a good thing to try. I tried it three times and we scored from one of them.
“The most important thing was to help the team.
“We’re fighting. We scored three goals, which was good, but we need to be better defensively.
“They played very good football, they have good players.
“We controlled some aspects of the game. We had other opportunities to score, but we need a stronger mentality.
“We need to start winning games.
“We need to treat the next game like a final because it is important for us, especially with it being at home. We need to start winning games at home.
“We’re working so hard and I will put everything into winning the next game.”
Oviedo was left to rue the game’s other set-piece strike, a fine free-kick from Florian Jozefzoon early in the second half that buoyed the home support and put the Black Cats, who were 3-1 ahead at the interval, on the ropes.
Despite their first-half efforts, Sunderland all but disappeared as an attacking force in the second half, with the ex-Everton left-back forced to abandon any forward-thinking instincts.
“We’re really close to winning, but we need a bit stronger mentality, as winning mentality to close the games out,” Oviedo said.
“The problem for us was that their second goal was so easy for them.
“We needed to control the first 10 minutes (of the second half).
“That is the most important period sometimes, especially when you are in front, but we didn’t take control and they scored.
“After that, they had more encouragement to keep fighting.
“If we had kept things at 3-1, it was a different game, but 3-2 is more difficult.
“It was hard for us not to sit back when we didn’t have much of the ball in the second half.
“That was the problem – if you don’t have the ball it’s very difficult to attack.
“It was difficult for me because I need to protect my goalkeeper first, and only if we can create, then I can attack, but, in the second half, I wasn’t able to attack much.
“I think we are a team that wants to be fighting to get back into the Premier League next season.
“We have very good players but we need to believe in ourselves because sometimes, like on Saturday, we are a strong team.”