Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce is aware his team are running out of time to secure their Premier League safety as they prepare to play Crystal Palace on Tuesday.
The weekend’s 1-0 defeat at West Ham left them 19th in the table, one point adrift of Norwich City in 17th with only 11 matches left to play.
Allardyce feels Sunderland need five wins from those games at the very least and warned his players not to waste the opportunity to get one of those against an out-of-sorts Palace at the Stadium of Light.
“The pressure on Tuesday is immense now, it is whether we can cope with that, as well as being tactically astute enough not to let Crystal Palace play to their game plan,” said Allardyce.
“We have to try to keep a clean sheet we desperately need and be clever enough to put the ball in the net. We have had so many opportunities where we could have drawn and lost. A few more points would have taken us out of the bottom three for a change!
“We gave a terrific performance against a Slaven Bilic team playing below-par, creating more chances and more shots on target. But when the final whistle blows it is the top line that counts and it was West Ham 1 Sunderland 0.
“We have to try to reverse that. We have to have our best run of season, five victories out of 11 minimum, that is 38 points, in the hope that 38 points will be enough again this year.”
Palace are on a disastrous run of 10 Premier League games without a win, but Allardyce would much rather be in the shoes of opposite number Alan Pardew.
“I wouldn’t mind being him now,” he said of Pardew. “For years and years and years I have shown players at the start of season that the first eight to 10 games are the most important.
“It determines how much pressure you will put yourself under. If you have a brilliant start, get the points on the board, then when you go 10 without a win, you have just slipped into the bottom half for first time with just 11 games left.
“It shows what it means to have a great start. Mid-table teams can always have a run like that so to put it right in the first place by getting off to a good start then you are alright. I would sooner be in this position than mine.”