GUS Poyet reckons there is not much difference between Sunderland and the other half-dozen teams in the bottom third of the Premier League.
And that belief gives him real hope that the Black Cats can clamber over their rivals in the months ahead and reach safety before the end of the season.
Asked how he rates the squad he has inherited, Poyet said: “It is difficult to place it - I cannot say they are the 14th best squad in the Premier League or the 18th best.
“What I’m sure of is that we are on a par with any team below, say, the bottom 13.
“I don’t think we are necessarily any better or any worse than any of those bottom seven sides in the division.
“So I don’t think there is too much in it when it comes to the difference in the squads at the bottom of the table.
“Obviously, we are where we are, and we need to improve.
“But the good thing is that there is not much difference between the bottom half dozen teams in the league in my view.
“Then it comes down to the best players playing a the best level, the managers picking the right team and so on.”
Poyet knows he has a tough task - that was underlined with the defeats to Swansea City and Hull City, if he didn’t already know after taking over a bottom of the table club with just one point from its first 15.
But he says he would not have taken on the job if he did not believe the situation was salvageable.
“I was sure when I took the job that I was definitely not taking on the worst squad in the division - even though that was where we were in the table,” he revealed.
“And do not get me wrong - I’m not the sort of person who says that we do not deserve to be wherever we are in the table.
“In my view, you are where you are in the table because that’s precisely where you deserve to be.
“I always trust the table - we deserve to be where we are because we played the games and we got the results we did.
“But things in this league can be so equal in so many games - there can be so little to choose between the teams in terms of how things might go - and one little thing tips the game for, or against you.
“That can be tough if it goes against you but it can also work for you and anything can change in four or five games one way or the other.
“But the difficult thing for this team is to maintain a consistency throughout the season.
“That is our challenge.
“The teams that can genuinely do that, they are the teams that reach the top six or the top seven
“In our case, we need consistency just to stay up.
“But I have been pleased with the progress we’ve made so far in a short space of time and I am determined that we will build on it.”