Turner wants tougher Black Cats

BY foxsports • March 1, 2010

Sunday's 0-0 draw with Fulham at the Stadium of Light left the Black Cats perched precariously above the Premier League drop zone, just three points better off than 18th-placed Hull and without a win in 14 attempts. Steve Bruce's men have just 11 remaining fixtures in which to rescue themselves, and a first league victory since November 21 against Bolton next time out is imperative if they are to ease their fears of being sucked into the mire at the foot of the table. But on the evidence of the latest attempt to end the drought, they will need to find a cure for the crippling anxiety which has become a feature of their play in recent months. Turner said: "We know we need a win badly so we probably got a bit nervy and a bit too direct in trying to get ourselves a goal. "We have played some good stuff this season, particularly in the early part of the season, so we know we have got that in us. "We have another three home games on the trot now, so hopefully we can do better against Bolton next week." Current owner Ellis Short and before him, the Drumaville consortium, have ploughed the better part of £120million into rebuilding the team which emerged from the Championship at the end of the 2006-07 season, but the club's sternest critics could argue that little appears to have changed. There are undoubtedly better quality players among the current crop - striker Darren Bent has 16 goals to his name this season, while on-loan defender John Mensah has looked a class act on the rare occasions he has been fit. However, despite a hugely encouraging start to the campaign, it is difficult to see where progress has been made in terms of tangible results. Sunderland have collected 27 points from as many games to date. At the same point last season, derby rivals Middlesbrough had one fewer and Newcastle one more, and no-one on Wearside will need reminding of the misery which befell both as the campaign drew to a disastrous conclusion. Bruce is confident their fate remains in their own hands with Manchester City and Birmingham following Bolton to the Stadium of Light over the next three weeks, and a return of six or seven points would have a major impact. However, while they have tightened up at the back in recent times, they have scored only twice in their last six league games and that is a damning statistic. They rarely looked like adding to that tally on Sunday as Fulham, who were even less threatening, coped admirably with what little trouble came their way. Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer saved from Darren Bent and Alan Hutton either side of the break, but would have been disappointed to have been beaten on either occasion, and Fraizer Campbell passed up the opportunity to test him more seriously at the end. Turner said: "As a defender, I have to be satisfied with a clean sheet, but we are all disappointed we didn't create more in the game. As a spectacle, I know it wasn't great. "That's four draws in the last five games now and we should have won at least a couple of the games we drew. "At least we are looking harder to beat now, but we definitely need to find the balance between being solid at the back and getting more efforts at goal." Fulham boss Roy Hodgson was satisfied with a point on Wearside just three days after his side's Europa League heroics in the Ukraine. The draw capped a run of eight games without defeat in all competitions in February, and with some of his injured troops on the mend, he is anticipating an exciting end to the campaign. Hodgson said: "[Paul] Konchesky is close to a return, [Clint] Dempsey might not be that far away from a return, Kagisho Dikgacoi might not be that far away from a return, so going into the latter part of the season, we might actually be having the sort of squad we had at the start of January before that disastrous month robbed us of all those players."

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