Bruce: 'The buck stops with me'
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was in defiant mood after seeing his side's winless Premier League run extended to 14 games on Sunday afternoon.
The 0-0 draw with Fulham at the Stadium of Light left the Black Cats perched just three points above the drop zone and looking anxiously over their shoulders.
Bruce's men have not won a league game since November 21 and have slipped from the exalted position of European hopefuls to relegation candidates during the ensuing months.
However, the 49-year-old remains convinced they can get themselves out of trouble.
Bruce said: "Listen, I am the manager, the buck stops with me. I have brought five or six of them to the club and anything that's levelled at any of them, it is my job to try to protect them if I can, which I will do.
"Of course it's my responsibility and it hasn't been easy, that's for sure. But the one thing I am not going to do is shy away from it.
"I always knew it was going to be difficult. The great start we got off to maybe led us up a path we weren't ready for.
"However, I didn't want this to happen, that's for sure, and the only thing that's left for me to do is make sure I stick with it.
"I think I have been decent at the job in the past and I am convinced I am still right to do it."
In a game of few clear-cut opportunities, it was Sunderland who enjoyed the better of them, but while Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer was busier than opposite number Craig Gordon, he was never over-extended.
He made two significant saves, the first from Darren Bent's 40th-minute free-kick and the second from full-back Alan Hutton's second-half drive, but neither troubled him unduly.
Substitute Bolo Zenden and Hutton both fired into the side-netting after the break, but Fraizer Campbell squandered perhaps their best chance when he fired over three minutes from time.
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson was delighted with the point three days after a gruelling trip to Ukraine which saw his side claim a mouthwatering Europa League last-16 clash with Juventus after next weekend's FA Cup quarter-final showdown with Tottenham.
The Londoners played eight games in all competitions in February, winning five and drawing the other three.
Hodgson said: "It's always a good point, isn't it?
"I suppose the importance and the quality of the points is exaggerated not only by the exertions in midweek, but the fact it's an eighth game in a short month using basically the same players in every game.
"I did fear for this game because Sunderland are very strong at home - this is where they take their points - and because we got back so late in the early hours of Friday morning.
"I was concerned if ever a game was going to take its toll, this would be the one.
"But, once again, the players really surprised me. They stood up enormously well to the balls that were played forward to the two big centre-forwards and we defended well in front of them.
"The only minor criticism that I will accept of the team is we didn't do enough sometimes with the amount of possession we had because there were some nice passing movements, but we didn't find that final pass through to the centre-forwards.
"But I am delighted with the point, I am delighted with the week's work and I wish February would last forever. But sadly, it's March 1 tomorrow."