Sunderland boss Jack Ross believes it's disrespectful to think Sunderland should be running away with League One.
The Black Cats remain four points outside the automatic promotion places following Tuesday's goalless draw at Barnsley, who are directly above Sunderland in the table.
Daniel Stendel's side haven't lost at home all season, yet Ross has been surprised at some of the negativity which followed the game and has been building in recent months.
"We were disappointed we didn't win the game because there's an expectation on us to win every game," said Ross when reflecting on the result at Oakwell.
"A little bit surprised at some of the negativity that surrounds it because on balance it was a draw against a team who are where they are for a good reason."
When asked if he was irritated be the criticism Sunderland have received recently, Ross replied: "I don't think irritation is the right word but I just think there has to be a realism about everything you say and do.
"As a manager you can't be defensive or protect your player's record if there's not the facts to back it up.
"But the fact is we've only lost two league games this season, we've not lost a game in any competition since December, players deserve more credit than they get at times.
"People have this misconception that we should run away with this league, it's absolute nonsense, disrespectful to the other teams in the league, disrespectful to the other players and managers.
Sunderland will hope to get back to winning ways when they face relegation-threatened Walsall on Saturday.
The Saddlers are 19th in the table, two points clear of safety, yet Ross doesn't believe Dean Keates' side, or any side for that matter, will be pushovers in the remaining 10 games of the season.
"Every point we've achieved this season we've had to earn, really earn, and every point we earn from here on in we'll have had to work really hard for as well," added Ross.
"The good thing is from within here the player understand how hard they've had to work to get where they are and also understand they're in a good position to achieve what they want this season.
"We're not in a position where it's a long shot to achieve what we want and get out of this league, it's still very much within the realms of posibility."