Seb Larsson admits that he is yearning to experience the ‘dullness’ of mid-table with Sunderland.
The 31-year-old is in his sixth season with the Black Cats, every one marked by a fight with relegation. Remarkably, he is yet to see a manager complete a full season with the Black Cats.
Larsson has been a key part of every ‘great escape’ so far, but, with finances tight and injuries depleting the squad, many onlookers suspect this could be the year the drop could catch up with Sunderland.
For Larsson, it is case of battling through in the only he way he has known how throughout his time in the North East.
The former Birmingham City and Arsenal midfielder said: “I’d love to be sitting in mid-table dullness or whatever you want to call it.
“People say, ‘They don’t have much to play for,’ but I’d love that situation where you can just relax and enjoy your football.
“But, on the other hand, I’ve been involved long enough not to think about what ifs and so on.
“You are where you are, we’re in the situation we’re in and that can be the only focus.
“That’s the best answer I can give.”
Larsson was at the Stadium of Light to present season ticket holder Steve Hogg with his ‘top cat of the month’ award, along with fellow stalwart John O’Shea.
Larsson and O’Shea have both spent large chunks of their career at Sunderland, and the Swede has opened up on the frustration of not being able to capitalise on any of their great escapes.
He said: “I’ve been here long enough that this place means a lot to me.
“Of course you’re hurting when things aren’t going well, just as much as when we’ve managed to turn things around and there’s a good momentum it’s such a great place to play your football.
“We don’t want to be where we are – not for yourself, not for the fans, not for the football club.
“But we are where we are at the moment and there’s only one way to get out of it – to keep working hard and making sure on a Saturday or a Tuesday we start performing better than we have.
“The main frustration is that we haven’t been able to build on the successes we’ve had at the end of the last few seasons.
“You’re heading into the summer feeling good about things and looking forward to pushing on.
“We’ve felt like we’re really ready to stabilise things but for one reason or another it hasn’t happened.
“We’ve just got to focus on not looking for excuses and make sure we do everything possible to get out of trouble again.”
Larsson has also paid tribute to the youngsters he has played alongside in recent weeks.
George Honeyman’s performances have been one of the few positives of a tough few games for Sunderland, while Larsson has also had to shepherd Donald Love through an unfamiliar midfield role.
He said: “The young lads have done brilliantly well this season and there’s a lot of them that have played quite a lot of football, so to put all the pressure on young lads in a situation like this is difficult, but I think they’ve coped really, really well.
“That means us players that have that experience, that have been about for a while and have been in these situations before have got to take that little bit of extra responsibility by being vocal on the pitch and trying to do certain things.
“Hopefully one way or another we can make the younger lads feel comfortable so they’re able to express their football.”