SATURDAY’S defeat to his former club Birmingham City, and the manner of it, weighed heavily on the shoulders of Steve Bruce in the post-match Press conference.
But at least in this particular low point – one of so many in recent months – he could spot a few green shoots of recovery might be emerging.
Despite defeat, Sunderland played their best football for months and that allowed Bruce to claim: “If we can produce that level of performance from now until the end of the season, we’ll be OK.
“We’ll be OK because that sort of standard will be enough to win us a couple of our remaining games.
“There have been a few weeks now where I’ve been coming in and seeing the Press after games and admitting we have not been good enough.
“But I can’t ask any more of the players then they gave me against Birmingham City and we’ve got to try to take the positives out of the game because there are positives there.
“If we can take that sort of performance into the two home games coming up then we’ve got a great chance of getting away from trouble.
“For the last few weeks, we honestly haven’t played very well.
“But against Birmingham we played well – we showed some glimpses of the quality of play we’re capable of.
“We lacked a cutting edge, but the performance was good and that gives us something to build on.
“Now we have to take that into next weekend and what is now a huge game for us against Wigan.
“If we play with the same refreshing attitude, we’ll surely be OK.
“We’ve got to stay with it, stay strong and go out and get a good result.
“It’s quite incredible what has happened to us over the last few weeks and all you can do is accept the challenge for what it is. We’ve got five games left and we’ve got to look at finishing with a bit of flourish.
“The players still desperately want to do well, but it’s tough.
“What we’ve got to do is roll our sleeves up and work harder than we are doing, if that’s possible.
“The players are intelligent enough to know we haven’t got enough points and that we have to address that.
“But we can’t ask for any more than two home games and we have to make sure we make the most of them.”