Dick Advocaat says he is sharing the pain of Sunderland’s suffering fans as the Black Cats face up to another season of toil.
Advocaat admitted Sunderland took “three steps back” in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth after previous signs of progress from his side were banished in a display which was all-too-familiar.
I will do everything that is good for this club because it’s a great club and great fansDick Advocaat
Around 1,200 supporters in a sold-out away end had made the 700-mile round trip to the south coast to witness Sunderland’s fourth defeat of the season, which sent them back to the bottom of the Premier League table.
And Advocaat insists both the players and himself need to take responsibility for the minimal return which those travelling fans witnessed after Sunderland were unable to recover from going two goals down in the opening nine minutes.
“For them, it’s a shame,” said Advocaat.
“We are all well-paid and they give their last money to see that game.
“I feel very sorry for them, honestly. I really mean that.
“But I will do everything that is good for this club because it’s a great club and great fans.
“I will look in the mirror myself. I really will.
“But the players have to do that as well. Hopefully they will come with the answer.”
While Sunderland are facing yet another battle for survival, so too are neighbours Newcastle, with the North East pair both without a Premier League win to their names and occupying the bottom two places in the table.
But when asked whether the Magpies’ situation provided any comfort, Advocaat said: “I don’t want to say anything about Newcastle, but they spent £50million, which is a bit different to what we have done.”
Advocaat is the latest in a succession of Sunderland managers to take charge of a side who folds under pressure though and prompts supporters to question the commitment of those on the field.
The head coach concedes that there is a losing mentality surrounding the club and wants his players to show the same brand of fighting spirit that has seen Bournemouth create a five-point buffer with Sunderland.
“It’s a big problem because mentality is difficult to change,” added Advocaat.
“We want to win the nice way, whereas Bournemouth are sharper.
“It’s not only Bournemouth. There’s more teams who are bringing that and you have to fight, you have to work.
“We have to change something.”