Just two points ahead of relegation-threatened Aston Villa now, 15th-place Sunderland have lingered in the bottom half of the table for the majority of the year, fighting to stave off demotion.
For fans of the Black Cats, such results have caused angst and unrest, while manager Gus Poyet, contrasting his previous remarks, released an open letter of reassurance to supporters of the Premier League club.
“There were too many things going around, you never know if it’s right or wrong and there is no better way than putting things clearly with your own words,” Poyet said of his choice to pen the letter.
Poyet, who has a winning percentage of 33 percent since his appointment in October 2013, will ponder an uncertain future at season’s end, as relegation may ensure his sacking.
The former Chelsea midfielder, however, has declared that he thrives under duress and appreciates when the odds are stacked against him.
“I like pressure because it’s the way I have been brought up,” he said. “When you are in Uruguay and you play football for the national team the pressure is there to win.
“I have never played football or managed without pressure. I suppose it would be nice but maybe I would not be myself after because I don’t have pressure. It is part of the game. I like it, I really like it.”
Sunderland have lost two straight, including 2-0 defeat to the third-tier Bradford City Bantams in the FA Cup fifth round, and Poyet’s team will need to capture sporadic spells of consistent form to remain in the safe zone.
At this extremity, it may seem dubious that Sunderland break into the middle of the table, but only three points separate them from Everton at 12th, with Stoke nine points in front at 10th. Considering last year’s final-moment escape from relegation, one cannot write off the Black Cats.