Bryan Oviedo on Chris Coleman impact, tackling Sunderland’s mental fragility and the goalkeeper situation

Sunderland defender Bryan Oviedo in action against Cardiff City last month.
Sunderland defender Bryan Oviedo in action against Cardiff City last month.
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Bryan Oviedo believes Sunderland are fortunate to have Chris Coleman at the helm as the club battles for Championship survival.

Coleman accepted the challenge of reviving Sunderland’s fortunes in November, resigning as Wales boss after a hugely successful six-year spell, including leading them to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

It was a huge coup to land Coleman, who has won four games since replacing Simon Grayson.

There has been an improvement, but back-to-back defeats to Birmingham City and Ipswich Town sees second-bottom Sunderland remain deep in relegation trouble.

Those defeats, coupled with rivals Birmingham and Bolton Wanderers both picking up three wins out of their last five, have heightened relegation fears.

Oviedo insists the results are not a reflection of the hard work being put in on the training ground.

“The manager has had a very good impact on us all,” said Oviedo.

“Everyone is happy with him, the club is happy with him. We are all 100 per cent with him.

“We need to stay together, everyone, the fans also, it’s great for us to have a great manager, because this is not an easy moment.

“We can’t look to the past too much and focus on changing things as quickly as possible.

“Everyone is happy together at the moment, I can’t knock that.

“We train very hard, fight for every ball in training and maybe the results are not what we expect, but that doesn’t tell everything because we are all happy together and on the training ground.

“The results are not a reflection of how we work.”

A major – and ongoing problem for Sunderland – is when they concede first, with confidence fragile.

Oviedo said: “Many times in games when we concede first, we cannot react and that is a big problem.

“You can concede goals, but then you need to react straightaway.

“Against Ipswich, we played very well for the first 30 minutes and created chances, then when we conceded out of nothing.

“The team was completely different. We didn’t show the character to react after that.

“It’s not easy for a team to stay strong mentally, because many times this season we have started well and then been frustrated.

“We need to change that right now because there are only 16 games left.

“There was last season, of course, but, at my previous clubs, I have never been in a situation of fighting against relegation before.

“It’s not easy, but the most important thing is that we have to believe in what we do.

“Personally, I am in a good moment mentally because I think we have a good squad with very good players.”

Coleman’s wing-back system suits the versatile Oviedo, who added: “I can play as a four at the back, as a winger or wing-back.

“I need to enjoy my football and I am determined to make Sunderland better by getting better every time I play to help the team.”

Keepers Robbin Ruiter and Jason Steele have come under fire this season, with Chris Coleman moving to sign Lee Camp on deadline day. But Oviedo believes they shouldn’t be singled out, with the whole team needing to improve.

He added: “The goalkeepers have taken a lot of responsibility, sometimes you can change the goalkeeper, but it’s not just them.

“We are defending and we need to defend better.

“The midfielders need to work better and strikers too.

“We need to change quickly, not just the keeper.”