CHRIS COLEMAN will not be losing any sleep over how his reputation has been damaged at Sunderland – because he is already awake at night thinking about solving the club’s ongoing nightmare.

The Black Cats boss has only been on Wearside for a few months but has quickly realised the extent of the problems at the Stadium of Light. There is no quick-fix.

His sole focus between now and the end of the season is survival and only then does he think everyone from top to bottom can take stock and look to the future.

Sunderland face Middlesbrough this afternoon knowing another defeat on home turf – where they have won just twice in 14 months – will push the club even closer to League One football.

That is something Coleman is desperate to avoid and, with many starting to question some of his own decisions since taking on the unenviable task after leading a Wales success story, he is convinced he has the right people around him to stay strong and deliver.

"That's the nature of my industry. I cannot start worrying about what people think,” he said. “I am the same man now as I was three months ago. What I have (previously) achieved is not going to help me now anyway. It never was because it is a different challenge, another chapter.

“And how I work right now is to forget what I've ever achieved before. My last job has gone now. I know a lot of people thought for me to come here was a bit of a gamble. Well, everything is a gamble. So let's see what happens. I don't know.

“We are bottom of the league, I have been here three months, one transfer window, the team has changed quite a bit, we have lost players and brought players in.

"Financially we are where we are, but for me, whatever I was doing with Wales, I never thought I had all the answers. I never thought I was above everyone else or that I was a fantastic manager.

“I was doing my job and now it is not going so good. But I still don't think anyone is better than me. I don't think anyone's opinion of me really bothers me that much.

“If you let people dictate to you about how you feel, that's your problem. Whatever anyone writes about me or says about me, good bad or indifferent, I go home to my wife and my children and a close group of friends who I have had since I was five or six at school and that is my core of people.”

Even if Coleman does not listen too carefully to his critics, he is still worrying plenty about his tactics in his bid to lift Sunderland out of the relegation zone.

He said: “Look at me, I’m only 26! That’s what it is. I do wake up in the middle of the night and think about a, b and c, should I do this, should I do that? That’s the job. It’s not all semi-finals in tournaments – that was great, but that’s gone, I’m out of it now.

“It’s about now and about the challenge. It’s a big one and where we are now it’s super-tough, it’s negative and everybody will be looking at us in the negative, you can’t blame them for that. I also know it can change, and I hang onto that. I’ve seen it change, it’s happened, I’ve just got to make sure it happens again.

“I come from one situation as an international manager where your complaints are that you don’t have enough control, it’s not day-to-day, you don’t have the same squad to work with, and I’ve come back into the domestic side where it’s day-to-day and there is no escape.

“Even if you want an escape you can’t because there’s another game to prepare for. I was doing probably 12 press conferences a year. It feels like I’ve done 12 in a day here, to be honest with you, because of the nature of the press conferences.

“You’ve got to ask the questions because the club’s not winning and it’s in a certain place and I’ve got to answer them.”

But however he is feeling at the moment, Coleman is still adamant that Sunderland can stay up with the squad he has.

He said: “If at the end of the season we finish fourth from bottom - bang, it’s job done, we’ve stopped the slide, we’ve stopped the unthinkable. We’ve still got some way to go yet.

“Again our supporters have endured a lot, not just this season. Now when we’re at home when we lose they don’t just boo us, that’s come from a long time as well – they’re just sick of it. You can’t look at them and say, ‘How dare you?’ You can’t blame them for that.

“But I do know that since I’ve come here if they’ve seen us having a go and then they’re right behind us. They were behind us on Tuesday night because we were trying and having a go - they get behind you for that. The problem we’ve got is they’ve seen a lot of things that are not too positive. Hence the reaction. We have to understand that.”