Sunderland are running out of time to avoid relegation from the English Premier League, manager Gus Poyet said after his side made some “scary” decisions in their disappointing, goalless draw at home to Norwich City.
The draw takes bottom side Sunderland to 10 points from 18 matches, four adrift of West Ham United who are 17th and outside of the relegation zone. Only one side, West Bromwich Albion in 2004-05, have avoided relegation after being last at Christmas.
Poyet, who took over from Italian Paolo Di Canio in October, had enjoyed a bright start to his career at the Stadium of Light with home wins over big spending Manchester City and archrivals Newcastle United but Saturday's stalemate was a missed opportunity to attain precious points.
“It was disappointing,” Poyet told reporters.
“We are losing time, we are losing games. I said in the beginning after winning a couple, we needed to win 11 to think, 'Can we get to 40 (points)?', and we can't win a football game, so who are you going to blame?
“This is where we are. The quality is what you see, there is no more.”
Sunderland failed to fashion many clear-cut chances against a Norwich side who had lost six of eight away matches in the Premier League this season.
South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-yeung had a good opportunity in the second period but he chipped over from 22 metres with Norwich keeper John Ruddy out of goal.
“I expect somebody to score. It doesn't have to be Ki all the time, but it has to be somebody,” the deflated manager said.
“The decisions in the last 30 metres today were scary, and that was unexpected - players who needed to have a shot, taking three touches, players who need to take a touch, they try to shoot, back to goal.
“I didn't expect that. I have got no explanation. Now if we make a mistake, I can tell you why, but there were things today that happened on the pitch that are difficult to explain.”
Tiredness was a possible factor for the hosts after they needed extra time to beat Chelsea in the League Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.
Poyet, though, had no interest in blaming fatigue.
“I have always said I hate excuses - until now for some reason we have always had an excuse and people can use it,” the former Uruguay midfielder said.
“Today, we have not. Today was a day to win and we didn't, so we are responsible for where we are and it's getting more and more difficult.
“It would be very nice if somebody could tell me why we are at the bottom, and if you think it's because of me, I'll take it if it's not personal.
“I have always accepted criticism from the press. If it's fair, I take it. If it's me, it's me. That's where we are.”
Defender Wes Brown came close to breaking the deadlock for the hosts with a 70th minute header that struck the post, but the former Manchester United player turned villain in stoppage time when he was shown a straight red card for clattering through substitute Ricky van Wolfswinkel.
Brown, 34, will be suspended and miss Thursday's away trip to high-flying Everton, who have not lost at home in 2013.
“I didn't have time really to pay attention to one action where we were so bad today,” Poyet said when asked about the red card.
“We were getting the stability in defence, getting some clean sheets. Now we have lost one of the leaders. I don't know what to expect on Boxing Day .” Reuters