Gardner voices Cats frustration
Craig Gardner has admitted Sunderland's players are becoming frustrated by the club's poor run of form following Sunday's 2-1 loss at Norwich.
Despite a second-half siege on the hosts' goal, Sunderland could not grab an equaliser following Gardner's first-half strike which halved the deficit and they have now recorded just two wins in their last 22 Premier League fixtures.
Norwich had stormed ahead with goals from Sebastien Bassong and Anthony Pilkington and managed to keep the Black Cats at bay to ruin Martin O'Neill's one year anniversary as Sunderland boss.
Gardner came close in the second half, hitting the post with a free-kick and seeing another effort cleared off the line, but revealed the players need to do more to turn things around with the club languishing in 17th place in table.
"We're frustrated but we have a tough game coming up against Chelsea now and we need to take hold of games from the start, not just from the start of the second half," he said.
"We've just got to take our chances. It's taking us a while to get into games.
"We need to stand up and be counted and take our chances. We can't keep doing this after games, saying 'it'll come, it'll come'. We need to make it come."
Former England Under-21 international Gardner does think Sunderland have started to show their quality in patches during games of late but is hoping they can start games at a quicker pace in the coming weeks.
"We started off slowly again against Norwich and found ourselves two goals down," he said.
"Not many teams play Norwich off the park at home - which is what we did in the second half. It's there, we can do it but we need to do it from start to finish."
Whilst Sunderland continue to struggle for form and consistency Norwich have quietly gone about their business and Chris Hughton's side are now unbeaten in their last eight league matches.
Since losing 4-1 at Chelsea on October 6 the Canaries have picked up points against the likes of Everton and Southampton and recorded memorable victories over Arsenal and leaders Manchester United at Carrow Road.
Pilkington, who scored the only goal in the win over United, was a key figure in the Norwich team that secured all three points yesterday, but the former Huddersfield winger was quick to praise the entire Norwich squad.
"We've put a run of results together and that's tough to do in this league, so it shows you how good a squad we've got here," he said.
"It's not just about the 11 out there, it's about everyone, because we'll need them all throughout the season."
Hughton is currently without injured first-choice goalkeeper John Ruddy and experienced defender Michael Turner but Pilkington was impressed with Norwich's start to Sunday's game.
"The first half I thought we were in control right up until when they scored," he said.
"I thought we were cruising and creating chances, and then from our point of view it's a sloppy goal right at the end of the first half, because their tails were always going to be up from then, and we made it difficult for ourselves.
"The passing and moving and creating of chances meant we were playing well, and we have been for the past six or seven games and hopefully that can continue."
The win moved Norwich up to 12th in the table, level on points with Liverpool and just two behind Arsenal in 10th spot.
O'Neill continues to come under intense pressure as he celebrates 12 months at the helm today, after he was brought in to replace Steve Bruce at the Stadium of Light following an equally poor start to last season.