Defeat to Swansea City makes it three on the bounce for Sunderland and while outside of the club it feels like their play-off aspirations are slipping away, Mike Dodds remains calm.

The interim head coach picked up the baton more or less where he left it back in December. Sunderland just outside the play-offs, close enough to make a charge. While the first-half performance against the Swans set alarm bells ringing, the response in the second 45 was enough for him to maintain a positive outlook heading into the final 12 games of the season.

"One thing that I demonstrated last time and one thing that I'll keep reiterating is, while I'm in this positions I'll make bold decisions," Dodds said after the full-time whistle. 

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"Sometimes that's going to be a positive, sometimes that's going to be a negative. The ironic thing is we wanted to be really bold and aggressive in terms of tagging certain players. Then second-half, in terms of our set-up, we were actually more reserved, but we looked more aggressive. That's the question I've just posed the players."

Dodds made no apology for being bold in his tactical approach switching to a 3-5-2 - of sorts - in an attempt to take the game to the visitors. However, that backfired with Swansea blowing Sunderland away in the first-half. 

The Black Cats were lucky to be going into the break just two goals down - Swansea thankful for a brace from Brazilian Ronald.

Despite shading possession, with 52 per cent, Sunderland had an expected goals of just 0.24 from six shots after the opening 45 minutes. In contrast, and two goals to the good, Swansea had an expected goals of 2.18, having had 11 shots and five big chances, compared to Sunderland's zero.

Luke Williams' side missing three big chances - which they should have converted. It would have been no surprise had the Black Cats gone in 5-0 down at the break.

We Are Sunderland: Swansea City (white) had far more shots in dangerous areas in the first-half compared to Sunderland (red).Swansea City (white) had far more shots in dangerous areas in the first-half compared to Sunderland (red). (Image: FotMob)

As we see from the image above, Swansea City were able to create opportunities at will in the middle of Sunderland's box, while the Black Cats were forced to settle for efforts outside of the area.

With an xG of just 0.24 - alarm bells were rightly ringing. Boos ringing in the ears of the players as they trudged off the pitch.

In the second-half, Sunderland were much improved, imposing themselves on the game with 58 per cent possession to 42 per cent. That being said, they still rarely troubled Swansea with efforts from dangerous areas inside the 18-yard box.

Dodds' side had seven shots to Swansea's two in the second 45, with an xG of 0.78, limiting the Swans to just 0.05. Luke O'Nien's second-half goal the only effort the Black Cats had within line of the goal posts.

We Are Sunderland: Sunderland (red) had more efforts than Swansea (white) in the second-half.Sunderland (red) had more efforts than Swansea (white) in the second-half. (Image: FotMob)

As for the reason behind the poor first-half display, Dodds was happy to accept responsibility for setting the side up the way he did but questioned the players mentality in that period of the game. 

Sunderland's inability to string a complete performance together over 90 minutes has been one of the main issues behind the campaign to date. 

There will have been some stern words at the break and at full-time, with the momentum chart below a clear sign of them upping the ante - after a change in formation back to a 4-2-3-1.

We Are Sunderland: The momentum from Sunderland's (red) defeat to Swansea City (white).The momentum from Sunderland's (red) defeat to Swansea City (white). (Image: FotMob)

Sunderland's record is 14 wins, five draws and 15 defeats with 12 games to go.

Both Tony Mowbray and Michael Beale have both tried to address those inconsistencies, with Dodds the latest to have a go.

"I don't see it being an issue because I work with them every day," he told We Are Sunderland when asked if it was the mentality of the players that played into the fluctuation of performance from half to half. "It's an issue, in terms of it's not consistent. That is an issue.

"I don't see it as an issue in terms of the group that we have. I see them every day, they prepare properly, they train properly. They're focussed and they want to be here. In terms of the group, I don't see that being an issue.

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"I think, one thing I will say about today is, going on the mentality conversation, we tried to be really bold with our decision in the first-half. I can see the wood through the trees with the Bristol one because I felt that we had a 15 minute spell - the mentality - we didn't manage that spell.

"Whereas the whole of the first-half really, as a collective, we weren't where we need to be. I've got to take some responsibility for that. We can talk about the mentality of the players but I've set them up a certain way. This one I can take a little bit.

"It's different. I think there's a level of responsibility on me not just the players."

Now eight points adrift of the play-offs, Sunderland have it all to do ahead of a tough run of games.