Sam Allardyce knew he was signing himself up for a challenge when he joined the Black Cats earlier this season, but the size of the task ahead is becoming clearer to him by the day, and with each defeat the challenge gets tougher.
Sunderland currently sit 19th in the league having only scraped six points during their opening 12 fixtures, with Allardyce only managing to guide his new team to one victory since joining, the experienced manager is fully aware of the difficulty he faces keeping Sunderland in the top flight.
Allardyce has admitted that he believes his club are the "relegation favourites" due to the fact that they find themselves in the drop zone at this stage in the season, and as several of his players head off on International duty, Allardyce must now come up with a plan to stop it form happening.
The vast amount of points dropped this season is staggering with only Aston Villa having a worse record, and with Sunderland sharing the title for worst goal difference with fellow strugglers, Bournemouth there is nothing to be positive about.
Allardyce believes they are in for the "long haul now" in order to try and push themselves out of the relegation battle, with Sunderland being a point worse off then they were at this point during the equally horrendous 2013/14 campaign, which saw them survive by the skin of their teeth.
Changes must come soon
Sunderland only survived the drop that season due to a fantastic run at the bitter end of the campaign, but Allardyce has no plans to be involved in a dramatic end of of season survival.
He hopes to get the job done long before then as he is aware that the club has been involved in end of season fights for survival " for the last four years" and Allardyce can't see a reason why players cant show similar character as of now.
Big Sam believes that the last six games of the season are "the last thing that players should have on their minds" showing that he wants the focus and attention to be on the present rather than simply hoping they can get by with an impressive run towards the end.
Allardyce strongly believes that "now is the time to start winning" and he wants an immediate response "starting (with the) next game", whether he gets it in Sunderland's next outing or not will remain to be seen, but it's clear that Allardyce knows this will be a battle and it's one he wants to win early.