Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn says any new signing requires a certain type of character to join the Black Cats.
Quinn told The Times: "Our players need to know what Sunderland means. As Roy (Keane) said so memorably, some may rather be in London, shopping with the wife, but others choose to come here and lift the place.
"We can't force players to buy into that - it's got to be their decision - but it's not all about winning games. It's about showing a desire and an understanding that they're playing for the region, not just themselves.
"The game is going global, away from the fans who live in the locality of their club. It's vital, certainly to a club like ours, to stay in touch with that fanbase.
"We can't sit back and be blase. We've won one trophy since the war. We've got to do more than just play games in front of them on Saturdays."
Sunderland roared to the Championship title under Keane last season, but they have found life back in the Premier League tougher and are currently just one point above the drop zone having won just two of their nine games.
Quinn remains confident they will retain the backing of the fans, provided they continue with their inclusive approach to the game.
He added: "People know this process is going to be hard, but we're happy with our signings and, please God, the finance will be there to add more.
"As long as people see us trying to do things the right way, being open and honest, they'll stay with us."