Sam Allardyce will spend this week trying to take the pressure off his Sunderland players as the relegation fight reaches a climax.
The Black Cats boss felt nerves were to blame for his side’s below-par performance in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Stoke.
The considerable consolation was the point they gained thanks to Jermain Defoe’s injury-time penalty, although Newcastle’s victory over Crystal Palace meant Sunderland dropped back into the bottom three.
Allardyce told reporters: “I didn’t expect it. The lads are very, very good, they’re all supporting each other better than any team I’ve been involved with in the relegation fight.
“In the last few games I hadn’t seen the sort of edginess I saw here so we’ll have a talk about that in the week and try and get them to believe a little bit more in what they can do.”