CHRIS COLEMAN insists he has taken on the Sunderland job with his ‘eyes wide open’, but is confident he can successfully address the issues that have left the club at the foot of the Championship table.

Coleman was formally unveiled as the Black Cats’ ninth permanent manager in the last six years this morning, and will preside over his first game in charge of the club when they travel to Aston Villa tomorrow.

Having left his former position as manager of Wales over the weekend, Coleman has inherited a side that have won just one of their 17 league matches so far this season.

Sunderland are saddled with a debt of around £110m, and owner Ellis Short remains keen to sell, but Coleman still sees plenty of potential in a club he regards as ‘one of the biggest in the country’ “I know managers have sat here before and thought the same thing,” said the new Black Cats boss. “But I have a big opportunity to manage a seriously big football club.

“The challenges are here, I know that and I am under no illusions. My eyes are wide open. It’s a huge challenge, a big task and I will not be in the comfort zone here. I don’t think anything good comes when you are in your comfort zone anyway.

“Once I had a conversation with Martin (Bain), I was very impressed with what he had to say. I know about Sunderland Football Club as we all do, I had 24 hours to think if I could make an impact here.

“Once I realised Wales wasn’t the one for me going forward, I had two conversations with Martin, I was very impressed and delighted the opportunity was there for me to come to this football club. I spoke to my wife and she was excited by it, that was it and it was all systems go.”

Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Millwall saw Sunderland set a new Football League record for going 20 home matches in all competitions without recording a victory.

They are currently four points adrift of safety, but with 29 games still to play, Coleman insists it is far too early to panic. And unlike his predecessor, David Moyes, he made a point of steering away from any suggestion that his new employers are already involved in a relegation battle.

“We have played 15 games or whatever it is (17), you don’t get relegated after that amount of games,” he said. “We are where we are.

“With ten games to go and if we are in the same position then we will be in a relegation battle, but there’s time to improve, we are standing on the edge of a cliff and we need to move backwards.

“We have a lot of games to play, for a lot of points, and we know we are being beaten over the head right now with not having won games at the Stadium of Light for a long time. We need to get the preparation right, we need to be professional and if we do that then sooner or later results will come our way.”

Coleman met his players for the first time yesterday, and is confident there is sufficient quality within the squad to mount a sustained rise up the table.

More importantly, however, he will be looking for his players to prove the strength of their character in the next few games.

“This is not a place to be if you haven’t got heart,” he said. “If you haven’t got heart and courage then you need that at this football club, there has been plenty of negativity happening here.

“But this will probably be the biggest club I will ever manage. Martin gave me the opportunity and I was always going to come.”