O’Shea: Sunderland stars must take blame

FRONTING UP ... John O'Shea.
FRONTING UP ... John O'Shea.
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CAPTAIN John O’Shea says each Sunderland player needs to look in the mirror to ensure they do everything possible to extend the club’s stint in the Premier League.

It has been a grim week on Wearside after Monday’s defeat to West Ham left Sunderland four points adrift of safety ahead of back-to-back meetings against top six outfits Spurs, Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea.

There is no sense of resignation in the Sunderland dressing room over their plight, but there is an appreciation of the gravity of the situation after taking just one point from the last six Premier League outings.

And O’Shea insists that means taking responsibility both collectively and individually for registering the three or four wins needed for survival after admitting his own culpability for West Ham’s opening goal on Monday.

“I didn’t pick up Andy Carroll as well as I should have done the other night,” said O’Shea.

“We were made aware of it beforehand. West Ham get a boost from that.

“That’s where I have to look at myself, make sure I stand up and make sure it doesn’t happen again if selected to play.

“That’s the individual challenges we have to face.

“You have to look at yourself and take things onboard that you need to do better.

“But ultimately, it’s about sticking together and getting that win from somewhere.

“It’s always going to be the case that the collective unit is going to get you out of it.

“A bit of individual brilliance is going to get you the three points, but when the fragmentation enters in, that’s when you really do struggle.

“We’re not going to give in. We’re going to give everything possible to make sure we stay a Premier League team.”

Sunderland’s failure to beat the Hammers prompted understandable dejection and criticism among supporters, as Gus Poyet’s side blew another opportunity in a ‘winnable’ game against one of the teams in the bottom half of the table.

But O’Shea says the players shared that sense of disappointment, with just eight games left to save their skins.

“What player wants to be in the relegation zone?” said the former Manchester United man.

“No player wants to get relegated.

“We’re going to do everything we can to stop that.

“It’s about Sunderland and making sure we continue our run of seven successive seasons in the Premier League.

“You can’t escape how big a blow it was against West Ham.

“It’s pure and simple. We’re running out of games and we’re in the position we’re in.

“But we have to focus on getting a win as quickly as possible, however we can get it.”

O’Shea hopes Sunderland can take inspiration from last season though, when the Black Cats’ prospects of survival looked slim before registering eight points from the last six games.

“We were able to battle through last season and if we can do that again, then great,” added the 32-year-old.

“We got ourselves in a situation where we had to produce some big performances and get some big wins in and we were able to do it.

“We hope we’re able to do it this year too. It’s as simple as that.”