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Bruce: Sunderland players need to believe they are a top side

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce admits the pressure is on after picking up just five points from nine games. Poor team performances at Wigan and Fulham have not helped, but individual mistakes have contributed in no small part to a home draw with Portsmouth and defeats by Aston Villa and Manchester City, and Bruce knows such errors cannot be allowed to continue.

He said: "It's five weeks ago since we beat Arsenal and everybody was absolutely delirious.

"You looked at the fixtures before then with Liverpools and Tottenham's and Manchester United's in there and you think, 'This is going to be tough'.

"You get through that and get over Arsenal and look on paper and think - but the Premier League is unforgiving and if you just make individual errors, you come two, three, four, five per cent off your maximum, you get punished by any team, and we have learnt a harsh lesson.

"We have put ourselves under a bit of pressure - everybody is under pressure in the Premier League, that's what it is - and we have got to get back to the way we were three, four, five weeks ago, and there were signs last week.

"If we do that against Everton and get a win under our belts, that may kick-start us on again."

But Bruce believes there is a more fundamental barrier to break through, the mentality at a club which has traditionally be battling the drop.

He said: "The biggest thing is the mentality here. The club has been in the bottom five for two years practically, so the mentality is that it's acceptable.

"That's the one thing we have to try to eradicate if we possibly can.

"But we are 10th going into Christmas with a really, really good opportunity, so I would rather look up rather than keep looking over my shoulder."

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