Is it difficult to stay positive around the youngsters?
That’s something we do every year, spend some time with them. I think they’re a breath of fresh air aren’t they, the youngsters? Complete honesty, all the hope they’ve got of a career in football, it’s great to spend a bit of time with them.
Of course, it’s tough because of the huge blow up at Bolton with Birmingham winning. So yeah, it’s tough, it is tough but we’ve got to keep going, we have to keep going, we don’t have any choice in it. The games are getting less, the point gap is getting more so it’s definitely heading in the wrong direction for us, which is tough.
But, whilst there is still a slim chance, you have to keep fighting, you’ve got to keep going and you can’t give in.
On dealing with blow after blow...
That’s what we’ve got to come away from. We can easily think that it’s one thing after another and it’s another negative. Within that 90 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday when you want something to go for you and when something should go for you, it’s a ridiculous decision that goes against you and you can think, that’s it. What’s happening for us, we’ve got to take our medicine, that’s how it is for us.
But, we can’t, we’ve got to dust ourselves down. Yeah, 8 points is a lot with 6 games to play, of course it is. It’s been done before and what we’ve got to do is just keep going. We’ve got to keep doing what we’ve done in the last two games, win, lose or draw. We’ve got to have that same mentality and in the last two games that’s much better from us. Across both 90 minutes where we’re very consistent and we’ve got to do that again at the weekend and it’s as simple as that.
Are we in miracle territory?
Well, 8 points from 6 games, so 18 points and we’re 8 behind. The problem is, to get away from where we are, we’ve won 6 games all season and with the 6 games remaining, realistically we’ve got to win 4 or 5. So, if you’re a betting man you’re going to look at that and shake your head.
Football miracles do happen, but we’re in a situation where you wouldn’t be betting for us. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It’s a tough ask for us but whilst there are games to play we’ve got to keep going until the gap becomes such that the distance is so big that we can’t make it up.
Until that arrives, if that arrives, until that arrives. What we can’t have is anybody pointing fingers at us in the last six games saying that we lied down and gave into it. The last two games we didn’t give into it and we’ve just got to keep showing that mentality. It’s tough, it’s not easy, but that’s what we’ve got to do.
What does the future hold for Coleman?
I think it’s not about the division we’re in, I’ve said that before. It’s about who owns the club and what the plan is. It won’t be because I’m saying I don’t want to be here, not at all. I wanted to manage Sunderland Football Club, this league, the next league, whatever it is I’m still the manager of Sunderland.
It will be, what is the future? Who’s the owner? What are the plans for the club? Am I in the plans or am I not? So, the answer of where my future is belongs with someone else. There’s nothing more I’d like than to rebuild the team, turn it round, I’d love to do that. That won’t be my decision, it will be above me.
On being willing to carry on managing the Club...
As tough as it is right now, it’s still Sunderland Football Club to me. If that happens and we drop and we have the same owner, Ellis is the owner and he doesn’t want to put any more money in, then yeah, there’s a conversation. If I think, can we still make an impact in the league below with what we’ve got? That will be a conversation.
It’s hard for me to talk about Ellis because I’ve never spoke to the man. I know what his plans are, it’s to sell the club. If he can’t sell and we drop, I still want to manage Sunderland Football Club and I’d like to have a crack at putting something together that can do something in that league. People should know it’s not going to be easy, but it’s very doable.
It’s just hard for me to answer those questions because I don’t know whether it’s going to be Ellis or someone else and I don’t know what their plans are.
On future talks...
It’s the uncertainty and it’s the not knowing. We’ve got six or seven players on loan who won’t be here, I think we’ve got five or six players out of contract that of course we’ve not even started negotiations on who’s going to be here and who’s not because of the uncertainty.
We’ve got a relegation dog fight on our hands, we’re representing a big football club, it’s going the wrong way, so there’s a lot happening. It’s that uncertainty and until we know for sure, it’s that and we’re building from here with this amount of money or we’re building from there with nothing, it’s that uncertainty. It’s tough circumstances, but you know what, I know people that will look at me and say what I was and now what I am.
For the experience I’m having, its still going to make me better, that’s who I see it. We’re all struggling, I’m not going to deny that, we’re all struggling, it’s tough. You’ve got to get through it, you’ve just got to get through it, hook or by crook. Wherever we fall, wherever we stand up or wherever we finish, you’ve got to work from there. There’s a blueprint then to say “right, let’s go, this is what needs doing.” I can’t say that yet because I don’t know where we’re going to be and I don’t know who’s going to be here with me or who’s going to be here full stop. I hope to god I’m here, that’s where I want to be, is here.
How do you keep motivating the players?
We’re going to play at Elland Road on Saturday, great place to play football. Leeds United are a great football club and we’ll be taking loads of supporters there because this club means a lot to so many people no matter where we are. We’re representing this football club and that’s the motivation everybody needs, you’ve got to go out and do your job.
Now, across the season, we haven’t done that enough and we haven’t done it well enough, that’s why we are where we are, full stop. But, I think we’ve set a little target and can we replicate the last two performances? The fans who were there on Saturday clapped the lads off because they saw that they were giving what they’ve got and that’s what we’ve got to do, give what we’ve got from the first whistle to the last and we’ll see where we are at the end of it.
On the supporters standing by you...
Brilliant, fabulous. It’s not about when you’re winning you know, you don’t find out about yourself or people around you when you’re winning. You’ve got lots of friends, you’ll get lots of attention when you’re winning, everybody’s smiling. You get up every morning and the suns out or you feel like that because you’re winning.
When you’re losing, you find out a lot about yourself and you find out about people around you, real people. I can only speak for myself, that’s where I judge myself or I judge people. It wasn’t easy for me where I was with Wales when we were winning and doing unthinkable things and everybody’s got this and that to say. I never ever got carried away with that because I know what football is like and I know football is an unrealistic world.
Now I’m at that the other end of it, of course I get down with it, its human nature. But, at the same time, I know around the corner good things can happen and that’s what you work towards. So, this football club, yeah, we’re going into Leeds, it’s a big game and a tough game for us, but we’re still going to take a hell of a lot of supporters.
The club always means the same to them people and they never see it any different. They’re struggling with it as well because they don’t like to see it where it is. They’ve seen a lot of different things since they’ve supported Sunderland, they’ve seen some great things and they’re not seeing it now, so it’s hard. But, they still love the club and we’re still a part of that, all of us.
Does it have to be six wins out of six?
If you were offering me that now I think I’d take that, yeah. We’ve got to go into every game to try and win it. We went to Derby to try to win, we went into Sheffield Wednesday and tried to win. We’re not sitting back and trying to soak up pressure, we’ve got to go and win the game at Leeds.
I’m not giving Leeds any information, they’re going to know that from where we are. 8-point gap, we’ve got to go into every game and we’ve got to try and win the game, plain and simple. Coming back from Elland Road with a draw, we’re going to be disappointed. Normally you’d think that’s a good point, where we are, we’ve got to win the game.
On having a good chance to win at Leeds...
Leeds have had a bit of tough time as well. Changes are being made their and again, that’s a really big football club. I think where they are, they’re not going to get into the playoffs, they’re not in relegation trouble, they’ll be playing for pride.
For us its very different, it’s all on it for us, so it will be interesting.
On Kone’s fitness...
Trained today, Lamine trained today. So, it’s been a good recovery from the weekend, he trained today and his chances should be OK for the weekend.
On being motivated by the inevitable turning point...
100%. Kevin Ball is still here, he’s been here forever, Kevin. I came here, the first time I played here must have been 25 years ago, it wasn’t here but it was at Roker Park. The same supporters, maybe a bit older than some younger ones, but the same people and the same feeling. I remember what it was like when it was full and Sunderland were flying at the time.
I came here as a manager with Fulham and it was hard for Sunderland then because they were getting relegated, nevertheless you still feel the passion on the people who support the club. You know what a good club it is. I’ve just had a meeting there with Marco Gabbiadini, who’s an agent now, who’s a legend here for all of the right reasons.
So, I know exactly what to expect if it can turn around, if we can turn it around. I do hang onto that and that’s the gamble isn’t it, sometimes you’ve got to risk everything to gain everything. You don’t want to be here, if this club is relegated you don’t want to be a part of that because its not good, it’s tough, but here I am and that’s what’s staring at me in the face.
But, I still hold onto the thoughts and dreams and my optimism is IF, IF we can get it around a corner, it’s hard to get something as big as this around a corner in such a short space of time you know, but I hope and pray.
I had a question earlier about if we drop, would I be here? It’s not about the league we’re in, it’s not about that. It’s about who’s here, who has a plan and is it a good one? All that anybody has to do when they come and buy this club is look at it, look at the last four or five years and do it completely different. That’s what they have to do, that’s my opinion and if they share that with me, brilliant, fantastic.
On the passing of Ray Wilkins...
What a great man. We signed him at Crystal Palace, he was probably 35 then Ray and we just got promoted out this league into the Premier League. He was 35 and he joined in the first training session and we we’re just all in awe of his ability and talent, even at that age. He hadn’t lost any pace because he never had any anyway, the way he played football. But, the ball was like a magnet on his foot and it was the first time we’d been around that type of quality of an England captain, ex England captain.
But, that wasn’t the attraction I think, it was how he was as a fella was the attraction for me. Great, great guy. He signed me at Fulham when he was the manager there and I had a great relationship with him. There were difficulties in the end for him. I had a car crash and he was the first one by my bedside and he wasn’t even at Fulham at the time, he’d moved on.
Anybody in football that you talk to, Ray Wilkins is an icon in football, certainly in my era. From a fantastic family, lovely people and he’s a great, great loss because 61 is very young, huge, huge loss.
He’d text me when I was struggling with Wales, he was texting me; “Keep your chin up, keep going.” Then when we had success, he’d text; “Brilliant, well done.” He was a top fella, top person.