Sam Allardyce thinks Sunderland need to stop playing “with fear” after suffering defeat at home to Southampton on Saturday.
Dusan Tadic’s penalty was the only goal of the game at the Stadium of Light as Allardyce lost his third game in four since taking the helm.
The Sunderland boss believes overriding concerns over potential relegation are stopping them from picking up the results needed to escape from the bottom three.
“We are playing with fear and we need to get rid of that. In the end we have gifted it to Southampton,” Allardyce told Sky Sports.
“When we play in the Stadium of Light we’re not releasing ourselves like we can and playing with fear.
“We need to pass the ball better. Our passing in possession was poor and I think it’s the fear of the position we are in.
“It could have been a point, it could have been a point at West Brom – that’s two points.
“We have to do better and cut out the silly mistakes. At the moment we are not good enough.”
The 61-year-old rued referee Mike Jones’ decision not to award his side a penalty when Maya Yoshida blocked Jack Rodwell’s header with his arm late in the match.
“In the end it’s hinged on two decisions – definitely a penalty we gave away but Yoshida’s handball inside the box wasn’t given,” Allardyce said.
“Irrespective of what’s gone on in between – not playing as I would’ve liked and the players being disappointed with their performance – that decision means we might’ve overcome a disappointing end.
“Yoshida’s definitely lifted his arm and it definitely hit him on the arm, whether Mike could see it from his position or not I don’t know and maybe that’s why he didn’t give it, but it certainly looks like that could’ve got us an equaliser.”