Simon Mignolet calls for cool heads as Sunderland prepare for relegation battle

Newcastle next up after nine-game winless streak

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet had warned Sunderland they cannot allow the pressure of a relegation scrap get to them if they are to survive.

The 25-year-old Belgium international and his team-mates find themselves in desperate trouble as they attempt to avoid an unexpected departure from the Barclays Premier League with new manager Paolo Di Canio having been handed the task of dragging them clear from trouble.

They head for arch-rivals Newcastle on Sunday on the back of a nerve-shredding nine-game winless run which has brought them just three points, and with the Magpies themselves needing another victory to all but ensure their place in the top flight next season, the derby stakes have rarely been higher.

However, Mignolet, while acutely aware that defeat on Tyneside would send them into their clash with Everton on April 20 in deep trouble, is adamant that each of their remaining six games must be tackled in isolation if they are to escape.

He said: "As a professional footballer, we can't think about that.

"We can't think about what's going to happen in the Everton game or the game after that, or what's going to happen at the end of the season.

"Now we have to focus and get ourselves ready for the game against Newcastle because there are three points to win, three points to lose.

"I know obviously it's a derby game and there is much more at stake than only the three points, but as a football players, you can't think of that because that's not important at this moment.

"Points are far more important, and therefore we have to focus ourselves on that and nothing else."

Recent Tyne-Wear derbies have unfolded between fine margins, the Black Cats' 5-1 drubbing at St James' in October 2010 aside, and fortune often plays its part.

Sunderland have suffered luck of the unwelcome kind in their past two games with Titus Bramble's own goal handing Manchester United victory at the Stadium of Light, while a Matt Kilgallon deflection and a Branislav Ivanovic winner - which the defender appeared to know little about - assured Chelsea of the points at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

However, Mignolet believes only he and his team-mates can change that.

He said: "When you are in the position we are, those things go against you.

"But there is no such thing as luck in football, you just force that yourself. Let's make sure we force the luck our way against Newcastle because that's very important.

"If we can get the three points there, there are still 15 points to play for."

The defeat at Chelsea was Di Canio's first game at the helm following Martin O'Neill's departure, and the Italian was buoyed by what he saw despite the final outcome.

He is still getting to know the players he inherited from the Ulsterman, whose demise was greeted philosophically by Mignolet.

He said: "In my short career, I know what it is when a manager leaves and when a new manager comes in.

"There's always one factor that is always the same, and it's when there are not enough points and when the results go against you, and unfortunately, that happened for Martin O'Neill.

"As a team when you don't get the results, there's always something to change and you always need something to happen to get a turn-around.

"The club has tried to do that with appointing a new manager. We had a great first half against Chelsea, we also had a decent second half against Manchester United - let's hope we can combine those two halves now into one game against Newcastle."

PA

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering