Sunderland’s 10-year Premier League stint could come to an end this weekend - but Lee Cattermole says the one thing the squad mustn’t do going into the game is feel sorry for themselves.
Defeat in the Tees-Wear derby left Sunderland 12 points adrift with just five games to go.
Bournemouth are the visitors to the Stadium of Light on Saturday and relegation will be confirmed if fourth-bottom Hull City better Sunderland’s result. The table makes for dire reading and Cattermole says the players have to quickly pick themselves up.
“We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves. I think that’s the worst thing we could do,” said the 29-year-old. “Football doesn’t give you anything, you have to earn it. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we have to pick ourselves up.
“We are getting paid to work and that’s what we’ve got to do every day in training and that’s what the players are doing.”
Sunderland fell behind to a ninth minute Marten de Roon strike, with the Boro midfielder getting in between John O’Shea and Billy Jones before prodding the ball between Jordan Pickford - an early blow they never looked like coming back from.
Cattermole, a veteran of previous battles against the drop, said: “When that first goal went in, it killed us. They could then just sit back and soak it up, and it takes a good team to break them down – they’ve kept a lot of clean sheets.
“We’ve come away from home for a derby and you don’t dominate games like that and get beaten.
“It’s tough to take and it’s difficult for the manager to come in and speak to us afterwards after watching it from the sidelines, when there was not a lot wrong apart from that final bit of quality.”
Pressure is rising on David Moyes, with the 54-year-old subjected to angry chants from the away end. Cattermole insists there is no shortage of fight in the Sunderland dressing room.
He added: “We’ve been in this position for the last five years and that’s tough on a player. But there’s still a lot of fight in us. We’ll just try to lead the boys as best we can.
“As an experienced player, a senior player in the team – people like John [O’Shea], JD [Jermain Defoe] and myself – we just need to keep on pushing the boys and make sure we carry ourselves in the right manner.”