SUNDERLAND might be finding the Premier League tough-going this season but, as Craig Gardner tells Neil Cameron, results are not affecting morale.
IF spirit and togetherness were what decided a football team’s season then Sunderland would be in fine fettle.
The last refuge of any struggling side has always been to get the message out that everyone was pulling in the same direction and that that would get them through the tough times.
It can be nothing more than a smokescreen, of course.
When results go against any side, it tends to bring frustrations to the fore and little splits in harmony appear.
However, it does seem Sunderland can boast a genuinely close dressing room, which, while it does not make up for a lack of world-class player, such as Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez who have blitzed them recently, does help when your back is against the wall.
Craig Gardner, Sunderland’s go-to utility man, is a positive person by nature.
You will never read an interview with him moaning about things being all doom and gloom. He could fine a positive from the darkest situation.
Not that Sunderland are in desperate trouble, they sit in 14th position, but January is going to be the most important month of this campaign.
First of all, Martin O’Neill needs to bring in players, anywhere in the region of three to five, to bolster a team and squad which is weak.
The next four weeks are also a great chance for the team to win games.
West Ham and Swansea at home sandwich a trip to Wigan. They then travel to Reading on February 2.
These are all winnable matches and the run starts with Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup tomorrow afternoon.
Gardner said: “It’s been a tough Christmas period for us as we had to play Manchester City, Tottenham and then Liverpool away.
It’s been tough to have four games in 12 days, but we cannot dwell on the fact we lost and we have to go again.
“There are a lot of positives and the transfer window is open now so maybe the manager will be trying to add to the squad, to bring in some extra strength in depth.
“It would be great if he could. As I say, we need to pick ourselves up regardless of what happens this month.
“I don’t know anything about what the manager intends in the transfer market. None of the players do.
“That’s up to the gaffer. He knows what he is doing, he has been in this position before and is a top-class manager. We all trust him and we are all behind him.