'Black Cats must maul Tigers in survival fight'

Sunderland manager says victory is only option against Hull in relegation battle

The Sunderland manager, Ricky Sbragia, has admitted that tomorrow's Premier League match with Hull City is a must-win game.

The Black Cats are hovering just above the drop zone after four straight defeats and remain locked in a bitter relegation fight with their North-east rivals Newcastle and Middlesbrough, both two points behind Sbragia's team. But the Scot has told his players they will stay up if they can reproduce the form shown in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last weekend.

The Wearsiders host fellow strugglers Hull tomorrow before travelling to West Bromwich seven days later. "It's a must-win situation," Sbragia said yesterday. "We know how big this game is for us. Hull will make it difficult for us but I feel we have enough to get something from it.

"We were encouraged by last week's performance. We did a lot of good things – we worked hard and showed better commitment. As a unit and as a team we did well throughout the game, so with a bit of luck we might have got something from it. I thought the crowd was fantastic, so on the day I was happy with everything except the result.

"We now have to do it against Hull, it can't be just a one-off. In general we need to keep together, be focused, committed, and show the desire we did last week, we've got to be all of those things against Hull.

"We can't afford to lose it, it's as simple as that. If other results go our way then it could be different, but we're not looking at that on Saturday. We've taken a lot from our previous game and we have to carry that through."

While Sunderland have won just one of their last nine, the Tigers have picked up maximum points only once in 17 games.

Sbragia added: "It'll be very tense and edgy early doors. We don't know how Hull are going to set up, but we know roughly how we're going to approach it and we need to make sure that we don't concede early on and try to get an early goal ourselves.

"We have two big games coming up, and we have another four big games after that, but as far as we're concerned we're focusing on the Hull game, and we know the importance of it. Hull had a great start to the season, but they've obviously slipped down, and three points either way can settle your Premier League safety. It's one of those games that you definitely can't afford to lose, but it would be even better to win."

Sbragia enjoyed back-to-back wins over Hull and West Bromwich when he was caretaker manager in December before being handed the job permanently. "In general we did well against Hull," he said. "When we got our chances, we took them and on the day we were clinical. We got off to a great start back then and it would be nice to repeat it. We scored eight goals, conceded just the one, and it would be nice to come out with those stats after the next two games, but they're completely different now. We know how hard it's going to be but we can only give our all and that's all I'm asking from my players."

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence