SUNDERLAND’S collective confidence has not been detrimentally affected by their dismal run, according to Carlos Cuellar.
The Spaniard yesterday acted as tub-thumping cheerleader in a bid to boost morale within the dressing room and, perhaps more importantly, with the supporters.
Sunderland fans have taken to social media since the 1-0 home defeat by Aston Villa to voice their concerns over the direction that their team are going after three months of what at best could be described as average results.
And while few if any are calling for anything like manager Martin O’Neill to be sacked, even the most ardent follower of the club has been forced to acknowledge that things are not right at the Stadium of Light.
But the season is only three months old and Cuellar insisted that results will improve.
Speaking on the club’s own website, Cuellar said: “Now is when character comes out and I think we have big characters inside the dressing room.
“We are going to be all right. We can’t put our heads down.
“It is a long season, this is just the beginning and we have to keep working.
“Confidence isn’t going down. We know who we are whether we win or lose.”
Cuellar was one of four new signings made by O’Neill before the August transfer window shut.
The 30-year-old defender started well, but his form has been patchy of late.
Louis Saha has yet to score, while Adam Johnson has been a shadow of the player that he showed during his time at Manchester City.
Even Steven Fletcher’s goals have dried up, although that can be put down to a lack of opportunities being created, rather than the striker failing to take his chance.
Last Saturday’s defeat by Villa was particularly disappointing as the home side failed to register a shot on target until the last seven minutes.
However, ex-Villa man Cuellar said: “It is always disappointing to lose a game, and especially one against your former club, but I think we played better and didn’t deserve to lose.
“Sometimes the ball just didn’t want to go in, but we have to keep working.
“I thought we were comfortable and in control but Villa got their goal.”
Sunderland now face back-to-back away games against Everton and Fulham, two of the Premier League’s form sides.
Everton, who the Black Cats meet on Saturday, believe they are on the verge of inflicting a heavy defeat on a side soon, once they start converting their chances.
Phil Neville, the Blues captain, warned: “I think we created maybe six or seven chances (against Fulham last weekend) and if we had been more clinical we’d have come out probably 7-2 winners.
“That’s how it felt playing. We just need to be a little bit more ruthless, not totally dependent on Nikica Jelavic scoring all the time and chip in with goals from centre midfield, wide areas and at the back. It’s up to us all to do it.”
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