CHRIS COLEMAN is determined to steer Sunderland through a “tornado” and to Championship safety.

The Black Cats are two points adrift of safety in the second tier and fears of League One football have grown after back-to-back defeats.

Sunderland head to promotion chasers Bristol City tomorrow with many fans not holding out much hope of a positive result.

Loading article content

Asked if this is the toughest challenge he has faced, the former Wales boss said: “I wouldn’t say I have faced tougher. It was a different challenge with Wales. When I went into Wales, over the space of five or six years we went from outside top 100 to top ten.

“Before I got Wales going it took a good year and a bit. I have been here ten weeks, I don’t have the time here.

"It’s about getting us over the line and then starting to think about what happens next. I don’t think I have ever faced any tougher challenges than this. We are right in the middle of a tornado.

“This is where we are in society, success has to be yesterday, forget tomorrow. They have been in a week, they have no choice and they have to make a difference, we have to make a difference.”

Sunderland head to Bristol City without goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter who has dislocated a finger. There are no other players due to return to action either.

Coleman added: “Marc Wilson is a no, Paddy McNair will get game time with the 23s, as will Jonny Williams and Brendan Galloway, then they Paddy might need another 23s hit. Still a no for Lamine Kone, no Callum McManaman either, he should be back next week.

“Funny how it works, with the keepers Robbin will be out for 8-12 weeks, bad dislocation. Lee Camp is here, now Steele is still here too to fight it out. Lucky that deal (to Derby) fell through in the end. Jason looked good last week, trained well and played with the 23s.”

There has been a lot of debate among the supporters in recent days about what should be the next course of action off the pitch, with protests mentioned.

Coleman, though, is determined for the fans to give the players their backing as he attempts to keep the club in the Championship.

He said: “I completely understand the frustration of the supporters, all I can say from me to them is if we have ever needed them more than we do now then I’d hate to see the situation they were in.

“They have every right to be angry, frustrated, we need them now. We take a big following away from home, the stadium might be half empty but there’s still 22,000 or whatever every week. We will do nothing without their support.

“I understand their frustration, I totally get it, but we need them right now. If we can find a little foothold to stop the slide, start going forward, then it can happen, of course it can. It’s not going to be easy, it’s a huge task but it’s doable. We are not a hopeless case. They have had hard times for a long time but we absolutely need them now, more than we have ever needed them.”