Sunderland’s next target is to achieve back-to-back league wins for the first time this season – but Chris Coleman is under no illusions how hard that will be.
The relentless festive Championship schedule sees the Black Cats host fellow strugglers Barnsley at the Stadium of Light today just 48-hours after victory over Nottingham Forest.
Sunderland climbed out of the relegation zone thanks to Aiden McGeady’s header and take on Paul Heckingbottom’s side aiming for consecutive wins.
Coleman, missing eight players and down to the bare bones, knows how difficult it will be.
“There is always another target,” added Coleman. “We haven’t done it yet, achieved back-to-back wins.
“To achieve two wins in three days is hard, no matter where you are in the league, especially for us as we have eight or nine players unavailable but that is the target.”
Coleman has only been in charge for eight games but already has three wins to his name and beating the teams around Sunderland will be key to survival hopes.
“If we beat Barnsley the game after will be just as big. Every game we go into the feeling is the same,” added Coleman.
“We must perform. Barnsley is no different to Forest on Saturday, or the one before that or the next one.
“We have to play smart and be street wise.
“It is not just about running round and giving everything; you have to play smart and be wise and choose your moments and make good decisions - that can actually save your legs.
“It is a huge game on the back of Nottingham Forest. Barnsley will be doing the same thing as us, patching their players up and seeing who is fit to start.”
Sunderland are fourth bottom with 22 points from 25 games, a point and place below Barnsley, who drew 1-1 with Reading on Saturday.
Coleman left international management with Wales to take charge at Sunderland and is relishing the intense challenge of the Championship.
“I’m used to planning and preparing for games with months between fixtures,” said Coleman.
“Now I have days, it is quite tough and comes round quick. You prepare, play. You don’t have any time to celebrate.
“If I won a game with Wales I could sit on that for two or three months and be King of the Castle. Not here!
“Win great. That has gone. Forget that mate. You’re judged on the next one. I’m excited by the challenge. I know it is a huge one but it excites me.
“It has been tough because it’s not what I’m used to over recent years but it is a hugely enjoyable challenge.”