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COLEMAN ON FAN PROTEST: Full transcript of the Sunderland manager’s meeting with the media today

Chris Coleman met the press today to discuss injuries, fan protests, the upcoming game with Bristol City and the psychological barriers that the players face when going behind in a game.

Wales Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

On current injuries...

Injuries. Marc Wilson is still a no, Paddy McNair will get game time this weekend with the Under 23’s, as well (as) Jonny Williams and Brendan Galloway. Maybe Paddy will need another hit with the Under 23’s before he comes with us, or a week’s training. We still don’t have Lamine and no Callum McManaman. But, Callum should be back next week, he’s progressed quite nicely this week and he should be OK next week.

On Ruiter’s fitness & Steele’s importance...

Yeah, absolutely, it’s funny how it works, isn’t it? Robin is going to be out, we think 8-12 weeks, it’s a bad dislocation. So, yeah, Lee Camp is here and Steeley and they can fight it out. I think it was lucky that, that deal fell through in the end for us. He looked good last week Jason, trained very hard, played for the Under 23’s and played well. He can fight it out with Campy.

On the options in the squad...

We have, we’ve got much better options now. Three weeks ago it wasn’t like that, but now we’ve got much better options. That’s we’ve been lacking I think, we’ve always been stretched. Probably twice I've had people knocking on my door asking why they’re not involved because otherwise we’ve just about made a squad in some games. There’s much more strength in depth there now, some of the new guys are there and they’re going to find their fight. They need to hit the ground running asap with the situation we’re in. Numbers wise, it’s much better.

New Sunderland Manager Chris Coleman Press Conference Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

On the mentality of the youngsters...

I think we score the first goal (against Ipswich) and we’d have had a great opportunity and we don’t take it. They score the first goal, 30 seconds again, two games running before half-time it’s the second goal. People start to lose belief quickly, because here we go again, we’ve been here before. So, you get the life sucked out of you then, which was a big blow. Up until the first goal, It was all us, I thought it was a really good performance. It was bright, we were lively, creating and we had a good vibe about us. Then, they score the first goal and we can’t even get into half-time 1-0, it’s 2-0! Big, big disappointment.

Second half we huffed and puffed, I still think it was a penalty, I’ll never change my mind on it. That’s 20, 25 minutes left of the game where we can do something and we don’t get that. Everybody’s thinking “Oh, this is never going to improve, we’re never going to get any better”. But, we can’t afford to think like that and I warned the new players before they arrived that it’s tough for us. If we go a goal behind, because it’s been happening a long time at Sunderland, where we go a goal down and don’t come back from it.

It’s only us that can change that and you’ve got to get used to the atmosphere as quick as you can and get on with it. But, I think they’re young enough and they’ll improve after the experience with us, they’ll grow and they’ll get more and more experience. They’ll mature for this experience, individually.

But for us, collectively as a team, we’ve got to change the way we do things. In terms of if we go 1-0 down, it’s a one off it happens 30 seconds before half-time, two games running you’ve got to look at that and think “that has to change, that’s mentality, don’t panic and keep calm”.

Of course, this is all easier said the done, but it’s only us that can change results, there’s nobody else. As soon as the players are on the pitch, I know it’s tough for them as well but it’s only us and them on the pitch that can change that. Whether they’ve been here two minutes or ten years, it’s a collective thing and something we need to address.

Sunderland Training Session
Only the players on the pitch can change Sunderland’s fortunes
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

On the reaction of our players when we concede first...

Yeah, it’s that; “This is a hopeless situation, we’re 1-0 down, we’re at home, we’re 1-0 down again, we can’t win at home, we’ve won a couple of times at home but we can’t seem to put back-to-back wins together”. All that, that’s like a trend and it’s a psychological barrier that we have to break down.

Again, we’ve got another game tomorrow and you look at it two ways, you go into the game and think; “I’m going to work to survive or I’m going to work to succeed”. There are two different ways to look at it. If we go with the latter, we’ll be OK. But, if we’re just thinking that we’re away to Bristol City, they’re up that end and we’re down this end, if we go 1-0 down, there’s this gloom and doom. If you’re of that mindset then you’re attracting the worst and that’s what happens.

You can never stop fighting, you can never stop, keep going and keep believing. Still, as negative as it feels, we’re two points away from getting out of this horrible situation we’re in. That doesn’t mean we’re safe until the end of the season, but it’s a positive step and we’ve got to hang onto that.

On Fan Protests...

I completely understand the frustration of the supporters. All I’ll say is, from me to them, if we’ve ever needed them more than we do now, I’d hate to see the situation we were in before. We absolutely need them, simple as that. I know they’re angry, they’ve got every right to be and they’re frustrated. But, we’ve never needed them more as we need them now, simple as that.

We take a big following away from home, the stadium may be half empty at home but there is still twenty-odd thousand people and they’re still there every week. A lot of weeks they’re disappointed going home. We absolutely need them, we won’t do nothing without them, we won’t get away from where we are without their support. I understand their frustration, I do, I totally get it, but we need them, we need them right now, with us.

If we can just find a little foothold in where we can just stop the slide and start going forward. It can happen, of course it can happen, it’s only two points. It’s not going to be easy, it’s a huge task, but it’s doable. But, it’s only doable if we’re all together.

I get their frustration, I do, I seriously do. They’ve had hard times for a long time, but we absolutely need them now. More than we’ve ever needed them - we need them now.

Soccer - FA Barclays Premiership - Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - The Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

On psychological barriers...

Good question. I think sometimes we get caught up with formations and tactics and we forget about personality and you have to show that in a game. Just like I said earlier, you can come to work to survive and just get through it or you can come to work, dig in and try to succeed, there’s two different ways.

I think we talk about this formation, that formation, tactically, this that and the other. But, really, I’ve seen it before in games, I’ve managed teams against much better teams than us and we’ve got a result, because we wanted it more. The opposition got it wrong on the day, they were off it, we were on it, you can get a result. You can do that against anyone, hence me saying we’re only two points away from being away from where we are, which changes the mood completely.

This is not a hopeless case, but we have to do it. It’s not just about formations and tactics, it’s personality, from me, from all of us. I’m not pointing fingers at players, it’s all of us, these are the players we’ve got, these are the players that are with us. They play good, bad or indifferent, they’re the players we’ve got. We’ve got to get the best out of them, push them as much as we can, be a bit understanding with them, the pressure as well, because they’re going to feel it.

But, they can achieve, they can this group, they’ve just got to show big personality in this situation, big character. It’s amazing, you’d be surprised where you can get to with that.

On the scale of the Challenge...

I wouldn’t say I've faced tougher, no. I don’t think I've faced tougher, it was a different challenge with Wales, obviously. When I got to Wales, in the space of five or six years we went from, we were ranked outside the top 100 and then we were in the top 10. But, before I got Wales going, it took me a good year, year and a bit and then we start to go. But, I haven’t got that time here, I've been here 2 months or 10 weeks or whatever, 3 months.

I haven’t got that time to do that, it’s pretty much needs must - get us over the line before we can start thinking about what happens after this season. Now, we’re right in the middle of a tornado, what do we need to do in getting over the line? I don’t think I've faced any tougher challenges than this one, no.

Cardiff City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

On the Impact of our January Signings...

It’s not just football, it’s society where success has to be.

Forget tomorrow or today - it has to be yesterday, success. They’ve been here a week and it’s normal. Have we seen a change, is it going to make all the difference? They’ve only been here a week, they’ve got no choice, they have to make a difference, we have to make a difference.

Is it fair? They’ve only been here a week, they had one day before we played Ipswich. It’s not fair, but it’s life, that’s it. We’ve just got to get on with it and we’ve got to get results. I’m happier with the squad we’ve got now, I’m happier with their arrival at the club. Forget me saying; “But they need time”, we haven’t got time, I know that. There’s no time, we’ve go to get on with it, get into it. But, I’m happier with the players we’ve got now.

On Bristol City...

Yeah, they’ve had a very good season. You know, they’re up the other end of the league, they’ve still got a chance at automatic promotion. They’ll be fighting for a completely different cause to us. Nevertheless, the Championship is what it is, it’s an exciting league in terms of anyone can beat anybody. So, us going to Bristol City and getting a result, are we being unrealistic? Absolutely not. They’ll know, Bristol, what the league is all about - they’ve been in it a while in the last couple of years on the back of a promotion.

That club, the momentum is going the right away. Unfortunately for us, we were on the back of a relegation and that’s something that we need to stop, they’re going the other way. But, they’re in the same league as us and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we can go there and get a positive performance and a result.

What a Win Can Do For the Team...

The longer you sit in the bottom three, the bigger the negativity and the harder it is to shift it. It only shifts if you get yourself away from it, get yourself out of it. That’s the big challenge for us now, that next win, get out of the bottom three and staying out of it. That’s all we need to focus on, we can’t worry about what’s happened. We can’t worry about Ipswich - I don’t talk to the boys about Ipswich, it’s gone, it’s done and it’s not going to help us now.

It’s only the future that can help us, it’s the future that we can change and we can affect. It’s still only two points, it’s not like we’re ten points adrift with 16 games to play, it’s two points with 16 games to play. Between now and the end of the season there will be twists and turns, there will be excitement, there will be stress, no doubt. But, because we’ve been in the bottom three for the last 3 or 4 weeks or however long it is, that has a lasting affect. We’re the ones to change that, get a good result and we’re out of it and build on that.