Sunderland AFC manager Simon Grayson has stated that he is under "no illusions" that his struggling side need to start winning matches, after the Black Cats winless run at home continued with Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Bristol City.
'Have to get the basics right'
Many on Wearside will have viewed Sunderland's long-delayed drop out of the Premier League as a fresh start for the club. Optimism was heightened by the arrival of Grayson, an expert in the second-tier and some decent signings which followed.
Howeve,r their form has just been a continuation of that which relegated them in the first place as they find themselves inside the relegation zone with one win in their 14 games. Their home form has epitomised their form in the last year with the Black Cats failing to win at the Stadium of Light since last December.
Their was some hope going into the clash with Lee Johnson's side who where fresh off a Carabao Cup conquest over Crystal Palace, but ultimately it ended in disappointment for the home side as they suffered their seventh loss of the campaign.
Fans will be hopeful of a better result Tuesday night as they take on fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers in a Halloween basement battle. Grayson stated after Saturday's defeat he was under "no illusions" that they need to start winning games and that a result against Bolton could "quickly change it around".
"Well I am under no illusions that we need to start winning football matches very quickly and that was supposed to happen today," Grayson said in his post-match press conference.
"And if we gift opposition chances and free opportunities to win a game then we are going to make it difficult for ourselves regardless of today on Tuesday."
"Our preparation obviously turns quickly to the game on Tuesday knowing that the next two games that we need to get some positivity around the place again," the coach proclaimed.
"Without a shadow of a doubt but we've got to do the basics right of any football match, win your individual battles, do what you are ask to do and stick to the game plan," the 47-year-old stated on whether he had the right set of players to get out trouble.
"Don’t blame other people if you’ve got a job to do whether it’s a set piece on in general play go stick to your job of what you need to and that will help us to win a game."
"I think today was probably the strongest squad that I have had available but we still didn’t look a very confident team," Grayson added.
"Where you look at Bristol City obviously playing with a spring in their step but we know a result or two can quickly change it around."
Sunderland 'shot ourselves in the foot'
The most disheartening thing for fans will be that Saturday's performance, especially in the first period was possibly worthy of a point, with the home side dominating proceedings for the opening half-hour before falling behind to Bobby Reid's effort.
Falling behind certainly didn't deflate the side as Lewis Grabban managed to get on back right at the death, it was ultimately Milan Đurić's second-half effort that decided things and Grayson was not afraid to lay blame on his players post-match.
"Well you are sitting here again probably saying the same things after every defeat this season," he said on Saturday's defeat.
"That we are making bad decisions and not taking responsibility when the players go onto the pitch and are gifting the opposition opportunities to go win the game."
"We talk about the first goal being crucial at home for us and we’ve never been able to do that so far this season, but a player who is 5'7" gets a free header in the box where yesterday we do a team meeting where we go through the set pieces and things like that. We do it again at dinner time," the coach admitted.
"When the players get here they are designated who they are supposed to mark and you shoot yourself in the foot and it deflates everybody when the first goal goes in."
"Up to then I thought we were probably slightly the better team without showing a great deal of quality given that the conditions were difficult," Grayson concluded.
"Ultimately we got a break just before half-time and wanted to go on to really impose on the second-half but again decision making and responsibility from the players was poor."