Martin O'Neill: Sunderland boss calm despite defeat by Chelsea
Manager Martin O'Neill says there is no need to be overly concerned despite seeing Sunderland drop into the Premier League relegation zone following the home defeat against Chelsea.
O'Neill, who has been in charge for just under a year, told BBC Sport: "We have a real battle on our hands.
"But we have a game to play on Tuesday against Reading and if we win that we will rise to about 15th.
"At this stage it is not the position that counts it's the number of points."
Sunderland have only won two out of their last 23 top-flight games and have just two League wins this season.
"It's a tough fight, though, it's a really tough fight," O'Neill added. "We got some fantastic results last season and it seemed by mid-February that we had calmly taken ourselves out of the relegation problems.
"I never saw it like that. I thought every game was a fight and it is exactly that now. Every game is a fight for us and we need to, when we have a foothold in games, try to make it count. That's the major point."
But O'Neil was encouraged by his side's display against Chelsea and said it was sloppy defending that cost them dear.
He said: "We played with a lot of desire and a lot of heart. We put enormous effort into the match. The crowd clapped us off at the end which may give you an indication of how strongly we played.
"The goals either side of half-time had a big bearing on the game but we were well in it and put in a real determined effort."