Sam Allardyce says Sunderland must consider every match “enormous” as they look to establish a winning run against West Brom on Saturday.
Sunderland have yet to win so far in the Premier League this season and only goal difference separates them from near neighbours Newcastle United at the bottom of the table.
Allardyce, who replaced Dick Advocaat as manager last week, believes getting off to a winning start under his leadership will be crucial to their hopes of survival.
“Every game is enormous for us,” he said. “We will have to be consistent, we will have to be resilient, we will have to be mentally tough in terms of believing in ourselves to try to get ourselves out of this position because, in all honesty, winning three games on the trot is going to be very difficult for us.
“But it would be three games winning on the trot before we would even consider ourselves being able to start to feel a little bit safe.
“Even if we win the game at West Brom, it’s a nice start, it’s a good start, but we are still in that position.”
Allardyce hopes to see Sunderland invigorated by the change of manager but is wary of allowing any renewed optimism to ebb away in the coming weeks.
“Part of the process of settling in is that you have little time to work with the team before West Brom,” he said to the Sunderland Echo.
“I’m going to have to rely on that change of manager bounce that maybe kick-starts the players into getting that result, however they can achieve it.
“Only 13 players were here at the start of the week, so I’ve taken in a lot of information from the staff about what team we could play.
“If I get the initial reaction that a new team sometimes gives a new manager and get a result, then I have to sustain that and not let it dip away.”