CHRIS COLEMAN has greeted Sunderland’s first home win in 364 days by urging his players to buy into the vision that the “possibilities are endless” at the Stadium of Light as he strives to turn things around.

More than 25,000 fans were inside the 48,000-capacity venue on Saturday to see 18-year-old Josh Maja emerge from the bench and slot in the 77th minute winner against Fulham.

The victory arrived just a day short of going a full calendar year without one on Wearside and brought an end to the woeful 21-match sequence which was already an English league record.

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Sunderland climbed out of the Championship’s relegation zone courtesy of those three points and they will look to claw 20th placed Barnsley in from above them by defeating bottom club Birmingham at the Stadium of Light this weekend.

Coleman has only been in charge for five matches but there have been enough signs of progress to suggest they are heading in the right direction; not only was it Sunderland’s second win under him it was only the third clean sheet.

He said: “There is loads I need to do and loads the group needs from me, the early signs have been good but we have big, big challenges ahead of us and plenty of work on the training ground. We are nudging forwards slowly but at least we are going forward.

“I didn’t see the players’ celebrations at the end, I went straight down the tunnel, but they deserve it. I would have got a bit carried away myself. They would have been enjoying it and they should enjoy it and they should show it to the supporters.

“There is nothing wrong with that, it is not getting carried away. It was a hard-fought 90 minutes and with what has happened, they should go and show the supporters what it means to them.

“They were buzzing in the dressing room and so they should be. We will be back on the gallops and getting ready for Birmingham in 48 hours to do it all over again.”

Maja, a former Fulham academy player, had not kicked a ball for Sunderland in the league before so had not figured in any of the previous 21 matches without a home win.

His freshness and raw talent, along with fellow substitute Joel Asoro, meant they didn’t go onto the pitch with any bad memories of previous outings and it showed in the way they helped kick Sunderland forward and on to three points.

Coleman said: “If you are young and playing here at the Stadium of Light, and looking at the possibilities, if you can’t get excited about that there is something wrong, the possibilities are endless, he is young and he has given himself a great chance to stay in and around the first team.

“When moments like that happen, you’re a youngster and win the game, he will feel that reaction forever now. We will all be talking about it but he will never ever forget that moment. What a debut that was, he deserves.”

Maja and Asoro have been impressing for the Under-23s for a couple of seasons and it looked like both would be more heavily involved after decent pre-seasons under Simon Grayson. Injury, though, prevented Maja from being available and he has only recently returned to the mix.

“I can’t tell you about Josh’s future,” said Coleman. “All I know is what I see and right now he has good movement, knows where the goal is obviously and he has had injuries but had a good pre-season.

“I know Simon liked him but could not use him because he was injured. Luckily for me, he has come back, has a few games with the under 23s, trained with us quite a lot.

“But him and Joel have a lot of hard work to do. The signs are good, good movement, great first touch and the finish was sublime as well. I am pleased for him and his future will be what he wants it to be.”

Sunderland have always had a decent team spirit and Coleman hopes the manner of such a long-awaited victory can help revitalise and start to repair fractured confidence. He allowed the players a festive night out last week, but bonding exercises are not in his thinking.

He said: “When everything negative happens at the same time it can be quite dangerous. After my first home game the mood was low but we got a good lift off the lads and we can get better at everything, all of us and the early signs have been quite positive.

“They had their Christmas night out last week but that is not where they will get their team spirit from. They don’t even have to like each other. I promise you, I have been in so many dressing rooms and the best ones have had a bit of an edge.

“When you have been on the pitch together that is what it is about, you don’t have to be best mates or want to spend time with each other, I have been in some dressing rooms where it has been a great laugh but it is going nowhere.

“Team spirit comes on the pitch when you have to stick together like Saturday, like last week at Wolves, like Reading - being in moments when you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel but you don’t duck the challenge and you come back for more and you get through it. That is where you get team spirit from.”