AT least Chris Coleman knows what he is getting himself into after hearing all about a performance that has become typical of Sunderland from the man he will have alongside him. But is he the man who will finally get things right?

As Kit Symons sat alongside Martin Bain, the chief executive responsible for successfully luring Coleman from the Welsh FA, at the Stadium of Light, he could only look on in disbelief as signs of a bright and purposeful performance were undone by humiliating errors.

This time it was goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter’s turn. He has made mistakes before since signing as a free agent in the summer, only this time they were far worse, and there have been other errors committed across the squad that have resulted in frustrating results.

Such defensive errors have further dented confidence which was already fragile following last season’s relegation from the Premier League, contributing to the depressive mood in and around the Stadium of Light over the last few months.

It is now Coleman’s responsibility to lift the gloom. And at least his appointment has given everyone a boost, in the stands and in the dressing room, given that he is arguably as high-profile a manager as Sunderland could have appointed at this time.

He confirmed his decision on Saturday night in Newport, when he turned on the Christmas lights, and that was why he instructed Symons to be his eyes on Wearside. Had he been there himself, the sight of Ruiter’s mistakes would have been enough to give him nightmares.

But how long will Coleman last? Hopefully longer than the last one, Simon Grayson, and the one before him, David Moyes … the list goes on.

Lee Cattermole, Sunderland’s longest-serving player, has, incredibly, played for a quarter of the 35 permanent managers Sunderland have employed during their proud history.

Coleman will be the tenth manager the midfielder has worked under since joining Sunderland in August 2009, when he was signed from Wigan by Steve Bruce. Robbie Stockdale was his third caretaker manager during that time too.

Cattermole, attempting to pull the strings as he buzzed around as the lone midfielder in front of Symons on Saturday, is banking on this one working, believing the constant change hasn’t helped anyone.

He said: “We’ve made silly mistakes in games but that happens with a new team and new players. The turnover has been massive. Three or four times in the past five or six years I’ve had to adapt my game to a new manager’s style.

“Only 18 months ago we finished a season well with a full house and the atmosphere was incredible. In a short space of time we’ve been relegated, but we need to stick together as a club. Fortunes can turn quickly. We are working to fight our way up the league.

“I have to improve my performance. We all have to improve. We can’t point the finger. A lot of teams we’ve come up against have had managers at the helm for years.

“We’ve had so many new players and it takes time to gain that trust among each other. We are trying to improve relations on a weekly basis. The cycle goes that the team then changes and you’re bouncing from one side to the other. At the minute we’re struggling.”

Coleman flew in to meet the players for the first time yesterday at the Academy of Light and he will be keen to forget about the opening 17 matches this season, which have heralded just one victory, leaving them four points adrift of safety at the foot of the Championship.

Much has been made of the fact the 47-year-old’s success as Wales boss was down to having one of the world’s best players, Gareth Bale, to call on, but the fact they secured qualification to Euro 2016 boasting the best defensive record of any nation highlighted he knows how to set a team up to stay tight.

Addressing Sunderland’s problems at the back will be his priority, knowing the team he has inherited has conceded 33 goals – only Burton have worse in the division – after conceding two more against Millwall – with a trip to Aston Villa tomorrow a difficult place to improve on that.

It is Sunderland’s tendency to self-destruct, borne out of a shattered confidence and repeated lapses in concentration that have prevented them from turning things around this season. In that sense it was good for Symons to witness that at first hand before confirmation of Coleman’s appointment.

Sunderland showed signs of promise against Millwall and grabbed a 12th-minute lead when Lewis Grabban scored from close range, the goal stemming from the fact that Bryan Oviedo’s corner was not dealt with properly by goalkeeper Jordan Archer.

The problem then was that while the outfield players had been effective, Dutchman Ruiter embarrassingly helped two hopeful, rather than dangerous, George Saville free-kicks into his own net inside three minutes of each other.

At least Millwall’s Archer returned the favour immediately after the restart to hand Sunderland a point when he got himself in a huge mess under his crossbar to help Adam Matthews’ well-driven cross-shot over the line.

Callum McManaman, who will be looking to recapture his best football under the new manager after working to return to full match fitness since his arrival, said: “We’ve had a lot of bad luck and feel hard done by this season. There have been a few games where we deserved to win and we haven’t got over the line. It makes it harder to win the next game and the one after. There’s a lot of quality in the dressing room.

“I’d say our confidence is suffering as a team. If we can just get that first win the confidence should come back and we can turn the season round.

“The lads showed great character but it’s hard when confidence is this low, especially when we score the first goal and then concede two. The lads got straight back into it and our heads could have gone down but we kept going.”

Avoiding the ninth defeat of the season does give Sunderland something to build on under Coleman, particularly given how they could have lost had Ruiter not redeemed himself slightly by making a strong late save to deny Lee Gregory.

Sunderland had their moments too, including a second for Grabban that was harshly ruled out when he was adjudged to have committed a foul.

Sunderland became the first team in English football not to win a home match in 20 matches, a run of 337 days between games to when they defeated Watford on December 17 last year. Coleman has back-to-back away dates before he has to think about ending that dire record.

McManaman said: “I’m definitely looking forward to working with him, hopefully he can get the best out of me and the lads.

“We can definitely get out of this; this Millwall game was one of a few situations where we could have had the three points.

“The lads have been giving their all but we haven’t had the rub of the green. A new manager coming in will give us a big lift. I’m looking forward to getting going, starting with tomorrow’s testing trip to Aston Villa.”