Wes Brown believes Sunderland have to keep faith in Gustavo Poyet’s gameplan if they are to escape relegation.
There were boos at the Stadium of Light on Monday as the Black Cats lost for the sixth time in seven games, against West Ham United.
Home fans were frustrated at their team’s inability to break down a Hammers’ side which did not need to show much ambition once Andy Carroll headed them in front inside 10 minutes.
But while the result kept Sunderland four points adrift of safety with one game in hand over the two teams directly above the relegation zone, Brown pointed to the quality of their performance as a reason to hold their nerve.
“That’s all we can do,” the central defender insisted. “You can’t give up. We’ve just got to keep going and keep batting on. If anything, we have to give even more.
“To go 1-0 down when we were playing well in the game and concede from a corner, it hits you hard. We got back in the game but we just can’t put our chances in the back of the net at the moment.
“When it comes down to it, that’s the main point.
“It’s our (defence’s) job to stop the goals and we can obviously do more on that side of it. Both goals we conceded (on Monday) were disappointing. We had a pre-match strategy and both the goals happened from it.
“When you’ve played well and lost it’s still rubbish. You get in the changing room and it’s the same feeling as any loss. All right, we’ve played well, but we all know we need wins and we need points.”
And while Sunderland’s next four matches are all against teams well-placed to qualify for Europe next season, their record this season is actually much better against top-half opposition.
“On paper it sort of suggests they’ll be the favourites but we’ve got to keep going with thesame sort of attitude,” Brown commented.
“We’ve played well but we’ve not won so it doesn’t matter. As long as we can keep going and give everything we’ve got, at least we can say we’ve done that.”
The former Manchester United defender was very dismissive of suggestions his team were under pressure playing at home, or by playing consecutive games on Monday nights, after their relegation rivals.
The Stadium of Light was a nervous place to be for the West Ham game, but Brown talked down its effect.
“I wouldn’t say it makes it more difficult,” he said. “It helps when they’re cheering and getting behind us like they did second half when we were pushing on. It’s edgy times so you can understand the disappointment.
“The last couple of games at home we’ve actually played okay, we’ve just not put the ball in the back of the net. At the moment we need points and we’re not doing that. We’re playing good football but it doesn’t count if you’re not getting the points.”
Likewise, he said of the fact next week’s game at Tottenham Hotspur will be the last of the round of Premier League games: “I don’t think it’s a pressure. We just need to keep going. The way we played, I wouldn’t say we were under a lot of pressure – maybe in the last third, where we could probably do better.
“Other than that we did okay but staying in this league is all about winning games and getting points and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Meanwhile, new sporting director Lee Congerton says Sunderland’s policy in the next transfer window will be to buy British, in stark contrast to this season, when youngster Duncan Whatmore was the only homegrown player of 18 signings.
“Ultimately we want British players, but they cost a lot more money so we need to be smart in the market place and do our research thoroughly,” he said.
“I think it takes players six months to acclimatise.
“It helps if they’ve already played in the league. I look at Fabio Borini, who I think has been a success this year.
“He’s a foreign player (Italian), but he’s been established in this country since he was around 15 or 16 years of age. I think that’s a market you have to look at quite carefully.”