The Sunderland squad this week held clear-the air talks in the wake of the Stoke City defeat and shocking start to the season.
David Moyes’ Black Cats are bottom of the Premier League, already four points from safety, after going eight games without a win.
The demoralising 2-0 defeat to Stoke – the club’s sixth in eight games – sparked a frank and honest discussion at the Academy of Light after the players decided to hold showdown talks.
And summer signing Steven Pienaar says there has been a positive reaction in training since after the playing squad opened up to one another about the dismal start.
“When you lose a game, you are upset,” Pienaar said, ahead of tomorrow’s trip to West Ham United (3pm kick-off).
“We all know the situation, we had our own get together and spoke about the issues we have as a team and what we need to do to get out of this situation.
“Everyone is open-minded and we sat there and cleared the air – hopefully it will help us to move on.
“It was something the players did themselves.
“When you lose games like this, you are letting a lot of people down – the club and supporters.
“We are the first ones to take responsibility and we thought it was good to just sit down and face each other and open up about the situation.
“It was honest. Honesty is what we need. We can’t hide behind things. What we are doing, it has not been working for us.
“We need to get out of it and work together as a team.
“There has been a reaction – the spirit has been high in the past two days.
“As a player, you don’t want to be part of a team that is going down, it would be there all the time in the history books.
“None of the players want to get relegated.”
At the age of 34, Pienaar, signed on a free in the summer after his release from Everton, is one of the more experienced players in the youthful Sunderland squad.
He said the younger players weren’t shy about having their say, though, at the team meeting.
“I had to say what I felt,” added the former South Africa international.
“There were a few younger players speaking up too, it was an open discussion.
“We all want to win games so that when you go home you can speak to your family and not worry about the result.
“We just have to make sure we start well at West Ham.”