There has been no shortage of goodwill towards Chris Coleman on Wearside, even if results have been a disappointment and more generally, the club is at is lowest ebb for a generation.
Coleman has been an ebullient presence throughout his troubled tenure so far, but he knows that Sunderland’s season is drifting.
After the Preston game he made no attempt to try and find positives from another defeat and before it, he talked openly about his and the club’s deeply uncertain future.
However this season ends, a root and branch rebuild is needed.
Arguably not since Peter Reid took over the club has the size of the task been so great, and the Sunderland legend has regularly been in touch with Coleman to keep his spirits high. Despite some frustrations with selection, signings and formations, most Sunderland supporters share a desire for Coleman to stay and be given the scope to transform things as Reid did.
The Black Cats has begun devising his plan to haul Sunderland back from the brink but the big question is whether he will be able to implement it.
He said: “I know what I want to do and I hope I get the chance to do it.
“I know how I see this club moving forward and certainly on the pitch, I think I know what it needs in terms of the team and what type of team. I just hope I get the chance to do it.
“I spoke to Reidy not long ago, he’s been great, he always gives me a call, keep your chin up, telling me how tough it was at the start when he was here.
“The club has been written off before and bounced back. Going forward I know what needs to be done. If a new owner came in and said ‘let’s go, get on with it’, I’d be the happiest man going. That would be ideal.”
Coleman’s comments are not dissimilar to those made by David Moyes around this time last season, as it started to become clear that Sunderland would not be able to pull off one last, great Premier League escape.
His comments were veiled but not overly subtle, making clear that he would stay only if he was giving significant financial backing, as Rafa Benitez had been down the road at Newcastle United.
One suspects, however, that Moyes perhaps knew that would not be forthcoming.
His tenure looked to be winding down for months and when he spoke of his long-term contract, few were convinced.
With Coleman it is different, even if there remains much uncertainty.
The 47-year-old, alongside Martin Bain, only recently met with the SAFC Senior Supporters Association to pick through the bones of Sunderland’s woes and look to the future. He is determined to keep meeting fans and building bridges.
Sunderland’s future, as he has already said on more on than one occasion, will ultimately be settled above his head, but for now he continues to put down the roots for what he hopes will be a long and succcesful tenure.
He said: “The club is the fans. Me, the players, we have our time then we move somewhere else. The fans are always here.
“They’ve got to be the most important thing and we have to build bridges, on the pitch and off it.
“Whether that’s us out in the community, having forums like the one we had recently, it gives them a chance to ask us as well.
“There’ll always be the odd awkward question for me about what is going on and choices I make on the pitch but that’s fine, that’s why we’re here. It can be really fruitful.
“No one could blame our fans for being angry, you really can’t.
“It is up to us to put them in a better mood, and I think we can do that long-term.
“Hopefully we can do that in the short-term as well by getting results between now and the end of the season.”