JOHN O’Shea admits defeat to Wigan Athletic was a bitter pill to swallow.
The Black Cats defender is still at a loss to explain how – other than a “soft penalty and a freak winner” – Sunderland were not out of sight of the Latics long before their fightback.
However, the Republic of Ireland international insists his side must remain united and retain the belief to turn things around.
O’Shea said: “It is extremely difficult to take that defeat.
“We started the game exactly how we wanted, high tempo, creating chances, went a goal up and should have been two or three up after 20 minutes.
“Unfortunately, we conceded a sucker blow just before half-time.
“You do not want to blame decisions, but it was a massive turning point and it was a very soft penalty.
“Seb said he did not touch him and we have seen the replays and we are convinced of it as well.
“We had enough chances to be out of sight by half-time but that is the name of the game in the Premier League.
“If you let teams back in, whether it is a referee’s decision or not, teams get confidence from it and they scored at the perfect time for them.
“They were looking at being two or three down and it looked like it would be 1-0 when we came in at half-time and then after they scored they were buzzing.”
O’Shea added: “In the second half we came out and did not have a high enough tempo and did not create as many chances as we did in the first half.
“We maybe could have got more men in to the box for the crosses when we had men behind the full-backs, but everything seemed to go to their centre-backs.
“They snuffed us out well and the game looked set for a draw, but it was one of those freak things that happens. We had to swallow a bitter pill in defeat.
“Everyone has to stick together now. Wolves away next and we will be doing everything we can to turn this round as quickly as possible because there is no other way and no point moaning about decisions even though they were crucial. We just have to get on with it.
“Of course we heard the chanting. We do not want to be losing at home to a struggling team and you are scratching your head thinking ‘How are we not winning from the chances?’.
“It should have been 3-1 or 4-1. It is one of those things, and hopefully it will turn for us quickly.
“You can only turn it round by sticking together and doing your stuff in training. We have the belief behind everyone at this club and we have to stick together.”