Sam Allardyce says improving Sunderland's leaky defence is going to be the key to halting the Black Cats' slide, but has warned fans not to expect quick fixes.
Sunderland have failed to keep a clean sheet so far this season, conceding a Premier League worst 18 goals in eight games, as well as seven in two Capital One Cup outings - one of which was against League Two opposition.
Speaking to The Sun, Allardyce said:
I don't want to sound negative but we've got to be realistic and accept that it's unlikely that we'll turn things around overnight.
If you get into double figures in points from your first eight games, your chances of getting relegated are dramatically reduced. Sunderland have got three points.
The ‘R' word is already back - relegation-threatened Sunderland. It's a big burden to play under that pressure in front of your own fans.
The supporters are anxious, the players are anxious and that is when the costly, unforced errors creep in.
I won't know exactly how difficult this job is going to be until in I'm amongst the players.
From a distance, I feel like I can sort out the defence and I think there's enough there to score a few goals.
It really is tough to question his blueprint for improvement.
I remember seeing Allardyce as a pundit on Sky Sports years ago when he was covering a Sunderland game. It was the Roy Keane or Ricky Sbragia days I believe, and he was asked how the club could get themselves out of trouble.
His answer was concise: "It all starts with clean sheets." You really can't fault it. You have to be tough to beat before you can compete.
Allardyce has also hailed the passions of the Sunderland fans, claiming they have already made him feel wanted, adding it is stark contrast to what he experienced at former club West Ham.
When I was at West Ham my wife, Lynne, would constantly read the supporters website to see what new insults were being fired.
It upset her but she couldn't keep away from the screen.
Now she's been reading the Sunderland fans' site and she tells me the reaction has been very positive, which makes me feel very excited to get going.
Everyone wants to be praised and to feel wanted and I just hope I can give the Sunderland supporters some of the excitement they are looking for.
It's nice to be loved. But at West Ham and Newcastle I was faced by passionate fans that made themselves heard if they weren't happy.