Cana seeks away-day cure
Lorik Cana believes Sunderland's poor away form could add unnecessary pressure to matches at the Stadium of Light
By Danny Wright
Last Updated: 07/12/09 2:37pm
Sunderland midfielder Lorik Cana says his side must improve their away form to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on games at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats were beaten 1-0 by Fulham at Craven Cottage and have struggled away from home this season, winning just once on their travels at strugglers Bolton on the opening day.
Steve Bruce's side had made a fine start but their away-day hoodoo has seen them slip to tenth, remaining in the top half on goal difference.
Only Hull City and Burnley have worse away records and the defeat was Sunderland's fourth consecutive away loss and their sixth of the season.
The Albanian international now fears his side will feel the heat in their home fixtures, starting with a clash against bottom club Portsmouth.
"It is frustrating," Cana told the Sunderland Echo. "It's not easy to understand this difference between home and away games.
"Of course, it's our fault because we know we have the qualities.
"We must find a solution and we can do it because we have more than half the season to show that we can produce performances not just at home but also away.
"It's not the end for us, but we must change it if we want to have a better future.
"We have the quality to play better than that, and you don't do that. It is a lot about mentality because you could see a big difference between the first and second half at Fulham."
Cana - who was appointed club captain by Bruce on the back of his summer move from Marseille - stressed the importance of picking up points from their away matches.
Portsmouth go into the clash with Sunderland after a confidence-boosting 1-0 win over Burnley, before Martin O'Neill's high-flying Aston Villa travel to the North East.
Bruce then takes his charges to Manchester City for a tough clash against the resurgent Eastlands club.
The 26-year-old said it was vital his side went into the match on the back of some success on their own patch.
"It will not be easy at home now against Portsmouth, but we have great supporters and we play very well at home so we will try to keep this mentality at home and win them," he said.
"Portsmouth had a very bad start to the season and now they're trying to come back and have had a win on Saturday. Then we have Aston Villa and everyone knows their qualities.
"We're going to try to win these next two games at home and then go to Manchester City feeling better."
But the away form must improve, however, and Cana said they must stop falling behind in matches.
The Wearsiders' only other away point came at Manchester United - where they twice led before conceding in injury time.
"If you score the first goal, it's a totally different game," he added. "We have scored the first goal only twice in away games and we beat Bolton and picked up a draw at Manchester United.
"That's why I say small things make a big difference."
Cana established himself as a leader during his time at Paris St Germain and has captained Marseille and his national side, leading Bruce to install him as skipper following his £4m move in July.
But he admitted the club's away troubles had brought about difficulties to his captaincy and was disappointed not to have inspired a reversal in fortunes - despite his vast experience.
"It's a big responsibility for me as the captain to try to help us in these situations," he said. "The manager is trying to change things too, but everyone has responsibility in a group to make things better.
"I can't change it all alone and need a lot of help and support to do that. The most disappointing thing is when you have qualities and don't make the most of them. I believe that is what is happening."