Chris Coleman has challenged his Sunderland players to take ownership of their performances and ‘tear it up’ against Brentford this afternoon.
The Black Cats desperately need to end their dire run of form against the Bees and having salvaged a point against Bristol City last weekend, Coleman wants to see his players on the front foot right from the off.
He said: “Sometimes managers and coaches, probably we think we are a bit more important than we are and we end up taking ownership away from the players.
“When I’m standing on the touchline bawling and shouting, they can’t hear what I am saying half the time.
“And if players pass messages on to those on the far side, it is probably watered down quite a bit.
“Where we are, there’s no chance of us hiding for 90 minutes of a football match and then coming away with three points.
“It’s never going to happen. We are always going to get slapped.
“The other way is just going for it and having a right tear-up,” he added.
“That’s a much better feeling. Even if you come away and you didn’t get the win, you still feel that it is a better performance if there was fight, there was grit, and you didn’t crumble.
“It’s all down to being positive and getting your frame of mind right.
“We work all week from Monday to Friday, but you have to put it into practice on a Saturday.
“When you find yourself 1-0 down to a soft set-piece after five minutes, that’s when the anger sets in because you work all week and then give a goal away like that.
“And when it happens three games in a row – Birmingham, Ipswich, and then Bristol – the anger and the frustration is compounded.”
Sunderland’s defensive woes have continued in recent weeks and Coleman insists that only with a change of mentality can the players get back to keeping clean sheets and winning games.
He said: “It’s frustrating. If you look at the first five minutes (against Bristol City), we conceded a set-play, it was a floated ball into the box – not a vicious delivery or anything – and we didn’t defend it properly and they scored.
“We get back to 3-3 and they are putting long throws and free-kicks into the box, and you see the different intent that we showed.
“How does that happen? What is the difference when you compare the first five minutes to the last five minutes?
“You can have one person in the box against five when the ball comes in, and if that one person really wants to go and win the ball, he will go and win it. “End of story.
“I never put extra pressure on the players, but the difference is intent.
“From the first minute to the last, you really have to want to defend.
“That’s just state of mind.
“When we have got clean sheets, like at Wolverhampton with 10 men, it comes down to state of mind.
“It wasn’t because of formation or tactics, it was state of mind.
“When you defend a set-play like we did in the first five minutes at Bristol and go 1-0 down, all the vibrations are negative.
“Five minutes gone and we are 1-0 down already. Again.
“However, when you are defending the other way and knocking each other out of the way to get to the ball, that sends really positive vibrations through the team. There is real intent there.”