TITUS Bramble is refusing to throw the towel in on the chase for Europe if it gives Sunderland something to play for this season.
One point from a possible 18 – the worst form in the Premier League – has seen the Black Cats’ season implode at a critical moment.
Coinciding with Liverpool’s resurgence and Birmingham City’s League Cup win, it has seriously damaged hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.
With eight games left, Sunderland now trail Tottenham Hotspur by five points – and the Londoners have a game in hand. Even Bramble realises it is a long shot, but does not want his team to give in and let a promising campaign slip away.
“It’s just a case of trying to finish as high as possible,” he argued. “Europe’s still not out of the question, we’ve still got to have some sort of aim. We’ll still aim for Europe and if not Europe, we’ll try to finish as high as we can.
“As a player you don’t want people to slack off, and you don’t want to be playing for nothing in the last seven or eight games. The manager and the coaching staff will make sure that doesn’t happen.”
In Bramble’s – and Lee Cattermole and Steve Bruce’s – last season there, Wigan Athletic were pushing for European qualification at the turn of the year only to finish 11th, undermined by mid-term sales.
“This is nothing new to me,” said former Newcastle United defender Bramble.
“Bolo (Boudewijn Zenden)’s great around the dressing room as well because he’s been there and done it, so he was in the dressing room after the (Liverpool) game picking everyone up and making sure their heads don’t drop.
“It’s good to have experienced players around the squad.”