David Moyes is targeting 10 Premier League wins to secure Sunderland’s safety, but has called on his front players to improve their service to Jermain Defoe.
Sunderland have won five league games this season and the Scot wants five more, though his side will have to make big improvements in front of goal.
The Black Cats put four goals past Crystal Palace three weeks ago, Adnan Januzaj providing superb service for Defoe and Didier Ndong scoring a terrific goal from distance.
Yet that is the only time they have scored in their last five Premier League games, with Everton keeper Joel Robles largely untested on Saturday despite Defoe hitting the underside of the bar.
Ndong, Seb Larsson and Fabio Borini all disappointed in the 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park and Moyes is looking for more.
He said: “This is what I’m talking about. We are lacking quality at times that I hope would give us a chance, or a goal.
“We know if we can get it to Jermain he will get a shot away or an opportunity.
“We are not getting him enough service, but it is because we are not getting enough good ball further up the pitch.
“We are scrapping to get that. I need those players, who we paid big money for a lot of them, to all to stand up and show what they can do.”
The defeat leaves Sunderland three points adrift of safety, but the Scot believes an improved spell could be just around the corner.
He said: “I’ve an idea that I’m going to have to win about 10 games to give myself any chance.
“So I’ve got a bit of work to do between now and the end of the season.
“I just believe that we’ll get a good run somewhere along the line. I don’t think it’s too late.
“We’ve got a tough run – the next game is Man City so I’m not kidding myself. We’re in a couple of games where we just have to stick with it.
“But I think Sunderland have been in a lower state than this and come from behind. I still believe there’s a run.
“I still think we can win three of four games somewhere – and we are going to have to do that in the run-in.
“It’s happened here before at Sunderland – where they’ve had a good run. The way football works sometimes is that you never see it coming.
“So I’ve got to believe it’s going to happen. i thought there were bits in the second half that gave us a wee bit of hope.
“The players have given a lot, they’ve run as hard as they can, but what we are lacking is quality in different areas and that can let you down, whether it’s passing, crossing, finishing, defending. We are just lacking a little bit at important times.”
Sunderland’s pre-match preparations were disrupted by illness affecting both Vito Mannone and Jason Denayer.
Mannone was likely to lose his place to the returning Jordan Pickford, but Moyes revealed that Denayer would have been in the side had he been fit.
Denayer has been a key part of Moyes’ 5-3-2 system used for the majority of 2017 so far, but his absence saw a switch back to a flat four in defence, Fabio Borini returning to play in the inside left forward role.
Moyes said: “He was ill as well. It was a problem because he was in the team we picked on Friday and we’d worked on it.
“But, on Saturday morning, he didn’t feel well so we had to make a change.”
The Sunderland boss was disappointed with the result but revealed it was not one of the games he targeted as crucial to survival.
He said: “I’ve got it in my head and today was one I would have been saying would have been difficult to get many points.
“If we come here and frustrated Everton, kept it hard then maybe. While it was 1-0, we were always in the game and we had to hope we could score from a corner kick or a free kick or an opening of some sort.
“We didn’t get that. The second goal put the game away. Two weeks ago (at home to Southampton), we were 2-0 down at half-time and it made it very difficult.
“We had to try to change things. I thought today we still had a chance and we had to hang in with it.”