Sunderland’s Championship status is more precarious than ever but Chris Coleman and assistant Kit Symons have not lost their appetite for the challenge.
Symons has been a close associate of Coleman for many years, the pair playing together at Fulham and joining forces for much of the Coleman’s managerial career.
Symons also had a spell in charge at Craven Cottage before reuniting with Coleman at the helm of the national side.
While they are still hoping for an upturn in the team’s fortunes before the season’s end, the pair have begun planning in earnest for the long-term and in an illumninating interview with the Red & White matchday programme, Symons has opened up on those preparations.
He said: “Certainly short-term, it’s about trying to have that little shift in mentality.
“We need results to keep us in the Championship, that’s the aim and it’s as simple as that.
“Longer term, it’s changing the whole mentality around the football club, which is easy to say but to actually do that, it does take an awful lot of work and it’s a much bigger thing.
“It’ll take time, a lot of thought and planning, but we’ve got plenty of time on our hands. We’re in the area, loving the area and want to make our club successful.
“I’ve got good memories of playing here, it’s always been a proper place full of proper people, you always knew what you’d be in for.
“If I’m honest, when you look around at the minute, that mentality is not really there now. I think it should be and that’s one of things we’re conscious of and want to address.
“The team and the squad should reflect the area and the people, I do think it is important although some don’t buy into that much anymore.
“Me and Chris certainly do and we’re looking to address that. It’s not something that can be done quickly, it’ll take time.”
The 47-year-old, born in Basingstoke, joined Coleman in relocating to the area and despite Sunderland’s plight, is loving life in the north east.
A close friend of club legend Kevin Ball, Symons says the decision to move was crucial for both himself and Coleman.
He said: “It’s a big thing for me and Chris, we’re 300 miles from our normal base.
“We knew it was a big job and a big task, and to give it your best shot you’ve got to give it everything.
“We made the decision when we first spoke about it that we’d be based up here and give it our all.
“Chris moved all his family up straight away and got a base up here. For me, my girls are older. My eldest is at Uni in Leeds so I get to see her quite a bit and the other two come up with friends.
“Straight away, we made the decision to go ‘lock,stock’ sort of thing. I’ve got a little flat on the seafront and I absolutely love it. Mind you, it was only recently I’ve begun to appreciate it because I’d left for work in the dark and get home in the dark.
“I can appreciate the North East coastline now it is getting lighter, it is amazing. The area is full of proper, down-to-earth people and it’s a great place to live.
“All of the people here have been great and all of the people at the football club have been fantastic.”
Sunderland supporters will hope that those home comforts soon translate into a turnaround on the pitch.