Lee Cattermole admits that Sunderland have wasted the momentum they built up during their promising November.
The Black Cats appeared to have viewed light at the end of the relegation tunnel after beating Newcastle and Manchester City in back-to-back matches at the Stadium of Light, but after losing to Tottenham on a day when their rivals all won, they remain in deep trouble at the bottom of the Premier League table.
Cattermole is poised to return at West Ham on Saturday as Gus Poyet looks to make alterations to the starting XI and he agrees with his manager that time is of the essence in their battle to climb out of the bottom three.
And he says that building up momentum is the key to the team getting their fortunes back on track.
“I totally agree that it has got to come soon. We’re fortunate that we’ve got a lot of games coming up,” he said.
“If we can get a point at West Ham it’d be a very good point and you can try and get some momentum. We just haven’t done that: we went to Stoke after the Man City game and lost, we went to Hull and lost after the Newcastle game.
“You think you can get it going after those wins and then we take a backward step. It’s all about hard work and effort and determination. If we do that and dig in, our quality will shine through in the end.”
Cattermole is fully aware that much is being made of Sunderland’s poor form but he has called for some sort of perspective after they slipped back to the bottom of the table during a miserable start to the month. The midfielder has endured more questions about his own role in the engine room after the red card that he picked up at Stoke.
“Football is all about learning every day. I’ve seen things that which have disappointed me but you have to move on and keep going,” he said.
“I think we have to put everything behind you and keep moving on because that’s the way football is. If you start believing your own hype you’re in trouble. You can be a world beater after two games.
“We see it now with the kid at Man United – two games was all he’d played. I’m sure he’s going to be a very good player but you need a bit of perspective. That is just the way it is with the media and Twitter and everything. You have to forget about that and get on with your own work.
“Look at Wes Brown. If you’d have asked 90% of Sunderland fans they’d have said ‘Let him go, he’s not played for however long’. He’s come back and played every game and they’re singing his name again because he’s been our best player over the last few games. You need to keep going and keep believing you can get back to your best form.”
Poyet had seemed to be visibly downbeat after the Tottenham defeat but Cattermole says there has not been a major change in his demeanour this week. He remains as demanding as ever.
“He told us exactly what he wanted from us the moment he came in so we knew. We’ve played some very good teams recently: we played Man U, Chelsea and Tottenham who are challenging the top four,” he said.
“We’ve not been blown away by them so we’re not too far. The gaffer is still confident, he still believes the way he wants us to play is the way we should play and we’re learning every day.”
Meanwhile, the agent of Emanuele Giaccherini has distanced the winger from a mooted switch to Inter Milan in January. The Italy winger has failed to nail down a starting slot but Giulio Marinelli said the player is “happy” in England and wants to play at the World Cup.
“Emanuele is happy in England, he has settled well both in the team and in in the English way of life,” he said.
“The Premier League is a beautiful championship, perhaps the best in Europe. The stadiums are great and the quality of life is exceptional.
“The only drawback at this time is the team’s performance but the squad is good and I am convinced that they will climb up the table. His personal goal is still to go to the World Cup.”