SUNDERLAND might have dropped to within a point of the bottom three after Sunday’s home defeat to West Ham and last night’s Wigan win over Everton, but Kenwyne Jones insists there is no chance of the club being relegated.
Sunderland boss Roy Keane spent more than £35m this summer, yet the club are no better placed than at the same stage of last season, when they were in 16th position prior to a 7-1 thrashing at Everton.
While expectations have changed, performances haven’t.
But while Jones accepts this season has been a disappointment so far, he does not expect relegation to be an issue in the second half of the campaign.
“We’re not worried about relegation,” said the striker, whose below-par performance against the Hammers epitomised Sunderland’s overall lack of purpose.
“We still have belief in ourselves.
The only worry is that we’re not consistent enough.
“If we can get the consistency right and start scoring a few more goals, then everything else will take care of itself and we’ll start moving up the table.
“Expectations are much higher, they’re going to be because we’ve brought in some new players and expect to do better than we did last season.
We have the capability to do better than we did last year – it’s just a matter of going out and proving it.”
In particular, Sunderland must improve a dismal home record that has seen them lose four of their seven league matches at the Stadium of Light.
Liverpool, Manchester City and Portsmouth had all left Wearside with maximum points prior to West Ham’s visit, with Sunderland’s only home successes coming against North-East rivals Middlesbrough and Newcastle.
Bolton visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday, and with Gary Megson’s side sure to be buoyant in the wake of last weekend’s away win at Middlesbrough, Sunderland’s players will have to raise their game considerably if they are to avoid another chastening experience on home soil.
“None of us know what the problem is with our home form,” said Jones. “It is a mystery to us, but all we can do is try to fix it next home game and get some results.
“We have to regroup as a team and club, and try to move forward again. We have to pick ourselves up for the next game because it’s important that we don’t go on another losing run.
“The most important thing from a team in our position is trying to get some consistency together. We need decent results and we need decent performances because a lot is expected of us. We’re too up and down at the moment.”
The same can be said of Jones’ personal form, although the striker can be excused a degree of inconsistency given that he has only just returned from a serious knee injury.
He missed the whole of the first two months of the season, and admits his lack of involvement has had a negative effect on his fitness levels.
“I’ve started three games now and I think maybe it told a little bit against West Ham,” he said. “I don’t feel 100 per cent fit yet and I don’t know when it’s going to be that I feel fully fit.
“Hopefully I’m getting there, but the more games I play, the fitter I’m going to be.
Who knows, I could feel back to full fitness tomorrow, it could be never. But hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later.”