David Moyes admits that Sunderland’s plight means the club is already nearing the stage where they face “must-win” matches every week.
The Black Cats miserable start to the Premier League campaign continued with a 2-0 defeat to Stoke City in the bottom-of-the-table clash at the bet365 Stadium.
Winless Sunderland have lost six out of their opening eight matches and have just two points to their name.
It leaves Moyes’ side four points adrift of safety, already.
And the 53-year-old Scot concedes the pressure is cranking up with every defeat, with Moyes likening every game from here on to a cup final.
When asked about the Stoke defeat adding to the pressure, Moyes said: “Totally, I think every game from now for us is a big game.
“We are nearly in a must-win situation from every match we go into – there’s nearly an individual sort of cup final we have to try to win from now until the end of season.”
Sunderland, missing nine first-team players through injury, shot themselves in the foot at Stoke, conceding after just eight minutes.
Didier Ndong gifted possession away in the build-up, his first pass hitting referee Mike Jones, before then giving the ball away again as he tried to find Wahbi Khazri.
Stoke moved swiftly, with Joe Allen nodding in Marko Arnautovic’s cross from close range. Moyes said: “For the first goal, I’d love to be able to blame the referee for it.
“I still think he could have avoided it, but we got the ball back – it’s not as if it went directly to them.
“We gave it straight away. We have to take responsibility for them.
“We may just have quelled them for the first five minutes, that might not sound long, but I thought we played better and sometimes we did.
“I thought we did – there were signs we were doing things slightly better.
“But the evidence is not conceding any goals and creating chances and we didn’t do either of them enough.”
Allen scored a second goal just before half-time.
Sunderland failed to clear a corner and the former Swansea City and Liverpool midfielder – who was an injury doubt ahead of the game – volleyed home from inside the area.
The game was effectively over at the break, with Sunderland unable to create anything of note in the second half, while, up the other end, Stoke threatened to add to their lead.
Moyes added: “We hadn’t done that badly, we were trying to be a bit more attacking and trying to play better.
“But we gave the ball away a couple of times.
“With the young and inexperienced players we’ve got, that’s going to happen – it’s going to be part of the development, unfortunately.
“We’ll show them, correct them, work with them to try to make it better, but it’s just the way it is at the moment.”