Jack Ross has admitted with just 10 Sky Bet League One games left Sunderland must start winning.
30 points are all that’s left to play for as the race for promotion cranks up a notch, with the visit of Walsall this Saturday to the Stadium of Light.
Kicking off at 3pm, the Black Cats face a Saddlers side who they’ve failed to beat in three attempts so far this season but knowing they can’t afford to lose any ground on the top two sides – Luton Town and Barnsley – if they are to secure an immediate return to the Championship.
Back-to-back draws – against Wycombe Wanderers and the Tykes - have stretched the lads’ unbeaten run to 18 games in all competitions, but it’s meant no ground has been made up on the automatic places.
Speaking at Thursday’s pre-match press conference, Ross was honest in his answer when questioned about this weekend’s meeting with Walsall and Sunderland’s run-in.
"It is just the same as every other team in this league,” he said.
“They will try to combat what we do well and then it is just about finding ways of doing what we do well to the best of our abilities or find different ways to win games.
"This season has 12 or 13 teams that still have a realistic chance of being relegated which means there are an awful lot of teams with stuff to play for.
"Walsall fall into that bracket as well.
"When you look at the number of teams in this league it is unusual to be in mid-March and have only a couple of exceptions who know they have very little to play for.
"As time goes on that number will decrease but it means the competitive nature of the games will remain high between now and May.
"When you manage this club there is an expectation that you win every week. There is a belief that you win every week. There is a hope that you win every week.
"So for me, nothing really changes,” he continued.
"The consequences, perhaps, become more acute but we know at this stage of the season to achieve what we want, we need to be winning games.
"That starts on Saturday, particularly now we are going into a period where we don't play a league game for a number of weeks after that.”