Sunderland boss David Moyes has told fans to prepare for another relegation battle this season after Sunday’s 2-1 defeat by Middlesbrough.
The club have lost the opening two games under Moyes, who replaced England manager Sam Allardyce this summer.
Asked about fans fearing another struggle, he said: “Well, they would probably be right.
“That’s where they’ve been every other year for the last four years, so why would it suddenly change?”
He continued: “I think it will be, I don’t think you can hide the facts, that will be the case, yes. People will be flat because they are hoping that something is going to dramatically change – it can’t dramatically change, it can’t.”
The Black Cats’ last four seasons have seen them finish 17th, 14th, 16th and 17th – often staying up thanks to late rallies. The 2010-11 campaign was the last time they did not change managers during the season.
Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Paolo di Canio, Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat and Allardyce have all been in charge in the previous five seasons.
Moyes dampens hopes of new signings
Moyes fielded five summer signings against Boro, the first Wear-Tees league derby in seven-and-a-half years. Patrick van Aanholt scored their consolation after Cristhian Stuani’s two goals for the visitors.
Four of those signings came from Moyes’ former clubs, with Donald Love, Paddy McNair and Adnan Januzaj arriving from Manchester United and Steven Pienaar having left Everton this summer. Chelsea recruit Papy Djilobodji also started in defence.
But Moyes warned that Sunderland, who lost captain John O’Shea to injury in the first half on Sunday, might not bring in many more new players.
He said: “What we have got, we are having to add to it with young players as well as one or two experienced players. We have got to try to get the balance right and obviously choose and get the right players at the right price in the transfer market.
“That’s actually quite difficult. It’s easily said, but it’s not that easy to do, and the prices, as you can imagine, are a bit more than they have been in the past.”
Analysis: ‘Sunderland have gone backwards’
Former Sunderland defender Gary Bennett, speaking on BBC Radio Newcastle: “Sunderland went into pieces in the first half and if that’s a sample of what we are going to put up with, we are going to struggle.
“I know Sunderland had to make changes but Middlesbrough didn’t have to work hard to go two goals up.
“The second half Sunderland did a bit better. Lynden Gooch came into the middle of the park, showed a bit of energy, got on the ball and wanted to make things happen. But on that performance, Sunderland have gone backwards.”