The disappointment at Sunderland’s draw against Bournemouth was fuelled by what lay ahead for the Black Cats.
Ordinarily, salvaging a point from a dire performance would not have been a cause for disaster, even if it was a missed opportunity against a fellow relegation rival.
But with tonight’s visit of Manchester City, the start of a daunting month which sees Sunderland face Liverpool, Manchester United and sixth placed West Ham, the failure to beat Bournemouth could be a major blow to the Black Cats’ survival hopes.
However, Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce says the month ahead should be one for his players to relish, with the transfer window circus over and the Black Cats facing one clear objective for the remainder of the season.
Allardyce said: “I don’t think it’s a horrible month. It’s a fantastic month to be focusing on football and trying to achieve our goal, which is survival.
“Our target now is survival.
“When I first came, it was how far can we finish up the table if we get it right?
“We’ve not done as well as I expected and now it is survival, we’re in that survival battle.
“Have we got the nerve and the capabilities, particularly mentally, to achieve it?
“Now the window is shut, February is a dream compared to January, irrespective of who we’re playing.
“We’re here to play in the Premier League to try to upset the big boys and try to achieve a result.
“We’re more than capable of that if we play our best on the day.
“Let’s hope that at the end of these next three games, we can achieve at least one of those big results.”
Sunderland conclude their February fixtures with a trip to Allardyce’s former club West Ham, who provide some hope to the Black Cats’ current plight.
Two years ago, Allardyce’s Hammers boasted 19 points from 23 games – exactly the same tally Sunderland currently have – yet still managed to beat the drop comfortably.
However, Allardyce has played down the parallels between the two situations after he has only been in the Stadium of Light hotseat since October.
“It’s a different situation to this one because I’ve only been here just over three months,” he added.
“I’d been at West Ham a long time then and I said in the press with extreme modesty that it wasn’t my fault!
“I knew it was all the injuries I had and I said that as soon as the players were fit, we’d be alright.
“As soon as they were, we won four on the trot in February.
“We’d secured our Premier League status then so we could start building for the year after.
“That was the only time in my four years that we were in any real trouble.
“From thereon, we built an even better side and they’ve built an even better side now with the signings they’ve made.”