Top 10 is a must - Zenden

BY foxsports • April 2, 2011

Just a few weeks ago the Black Cats were being considered genuine candidates for European qualification after spending much of the first half of the campaign in and around the top six. However, their recent slump in form, coupled with the recoveries staged by the likes of Liverpool and Everton, have seen them slip to ninth. Steve Bruce's men have taken just one point from their last six league games, a tough run which has seen them face Chelsea, Stoke, Tottenham, Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool. But after Sunday's trip to Manchester City, they will end the campaign with seven fixtures against more modest opposition, on paper at least. Zenden said: "It's all that tight that everything is possible. It's nice to be up there during the season, but we have always said it's more important to be there at the end of the season. "If you look at a team like Everton, who were struggling at the beginning, and where they are now, even Liverpool for example, it definitely is important where you finish. "If you have got eight games to go, you have got a lot to play for. But it is time to step up and start picking up the points. "Obviously, you set your targets. Target one has always been finishing in the top 10 and, if you look at the team we have got, that's definitely something that we should achieve. "If we don't we have underachieved because last week we only had five or six players left because everyone was gone with the internationals, and that means you have got quality in your squad. "With that quality comes certain expectations, and one of those is definitely finishing in the top 10. "That's what we should still aim for and start picking up the points." Such is Sunderland's form that January signings Stephane Sessegnon and Sulley Muntari are yet to play in a winning team. The calendar too has been unkind with the club playing only twice in March as a result of their early exit from the FA Cup and the international break. Zenden admits the season is long and gruelling, but insists the enforced lay-offs have been frustrating. He said: "If you talk about fatigue, we do have a big squad with quality players. "If you look at, for example, what we did last year, we also had international players on the bench, which means that if you do have players who are tired, you can use others who are actually still of a certain level so that your team doesn't become weaker. "I agree it has been a long season, but more so the last two months where we have played only a handful of games when, for example, in December-January, we played I don't know how many in just a few weeks. "If you play one game and then you have another two weeks without a game and then you have got one, that makes it a bit longer because you are not playing week in, week out. "It's nicer to be playing week in, week out. It's good to get a game and even if you do have a bad one, you know three days on you have the next one and you can redeem yourself."