Sbragia working around the clock

09 April 2009 03:30
Sunderland boss Ricky Sbragia admits his every waking hour is occupied by the Black Cats' battle to avid the drop. The Black Cats boss saw his side slip to within three points of the drop zone as a result of last Saturday's tame 2-0 defeat at West Ham. They could find themselves in even deeper trouble this weekend if they fail to emerge from the visit of leaders Manchester United to the Stadium of Light with something to show for their efforts. With Middlesbrough and Hull and Stoke and Newcastle also meeting on Saturday, significant moves could be made, and Sbragia knows exactly what is at stake. He said: "Somebody said to me, 'When do you ever stop thinking about football?'. "You can't. The only time you stop thinking about it is when you are sleeping. "It's always on your mind all the time - it has always been on my mind from the first day. "It's always there, it's always in the background. You try to get away from it, but unfortunately, you have got mobile phones and people speak to you and they want to talk to you here, there and everywhere." Sunderland have won only one of their last eight league games and have slipped alarmingly down the table to the point where they are now firmly entrenched in the scrap at the bottom just a few weeks after looking as if they were on the brink of safety. However, they entertain Hull next weekend and travel to rock-bottom West Brom seven days later, and those two fixtures could have a major say in their destiny. Sbragia said: "We will beat the drop. We are very confident we will beat it, the players are confident of doing it. "We can't rely on anybody else, we have got to just rely on what we can do, and we are confident we can secure our position in the league. "I believe in what we have got and I believe we can get the points to secure what we need to do within the Premier League." Few will give the Black Cats much chance of starting that process this weekend despite United's faltering, by their lofty standards, recent form which has seen them lose to Liverpool and Fulham, draw at home with Porto and only beat Aston Villa courtesy of a late flourish.However, Sbragia is not being taken in by his former club's apparent woes.He said: "I spoke to [United's assistant manager] Mick Phelan at the game last week. Everybody seemed concerned about Manchester United and he seemed quite relaxed about it. "They have got a lot of quality. They say they are struggling, and they are top of the Premier League and they are still in the Champions League and the FA Cup as well. "It would be nice to be in that situation and struggling." Having worked under Sir Alex Ferguson during his time as reserve team coach at Old Trafford, Sbragia knows exactly what makes him tick, and the secret of his enduring success. He said: "He has got desire and hunger, and he has moulded a fantastic foundation at Manchester United."He knows exactly what he wants and the players he wants, and he has got a great opportunity to bring the best players into the club. "Most of the players there would have quality, but they have to buy into the way Manchester United have to play, and he has managed to do that over the years."

Source: Eurosport