Manager Chris Coleman wants his Sunderland players to stick their chests out, be positive and ‘play smart’ against Reading tomorrow as the Black Cats look to end their home hoodoo.
The visit of Reading is Coleman’s first home game in charge and he is aiming to put an end to the dire home record.
Sunderland haven’t won in 20 games at the Stadium of Light, an English record stretching back to December 17 last year.
Coleman had this message for his players: “It is an unwanted record, of course. One that can only be changed by us, there is nothing we can do about the past.
“The quicker we do that of course you get that unwanted burden and pressure off your shoulders.
“We can’t be walking on to the pitch thinking doom and gloom.
“You have to walk on to the pitch larger than life, stick your chest out. Get on with it. Stay strong come what may, that is the mentality that gets you away from where we are.
“The message has been consistent; be as positive as we can.
“It has to be more measured, we have to play smart. Football is physical with lots of running but we want them to be street wise too.
“Reading won’t come here and just sit back and say ‘have it your way’. We need to be smart, have a bit of savvy about us for the full 90-plus minutes, not just 10 minutes. We have to play a smart football game.
“I don’t want everybody to think overnight everything is rosy – we still have mountains to climb yet.
“It is how you look at it? Enjoy it or be put off by it? I am not put off by it.
“Bad times don’t last forever. Tough times don’t last forever, you get through it. Good, strong people, they last. Tough times don’t – you get through it.
“That is what we have to do.”