Sbragia accepts Black Cats pressure

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Sunderland boss Ricky Sbragia accepts he is on trial as the club attempt to secure a major cash injection.

American investor Ellis Short is currently considering a move to increase his stake in the club to the point where he assumes overall control from the Drumaville consortium which funded chairman Niall Quinn's buy-out almost three years ago.

However, Quinn has admitted he, Sbragia and the players are all "on trial" despite Short's financial backing effectively giving them an "anti-relegation clause".

The 52-year-old Scot, who replaced Roy Keane as manager in December on an 18-month contract, has been made fully aware of the potential for development at the Stadium of Light under a regime which is taking an enlightened view to football in the current economic climate.

However, he has few doubts over the price to be paid for failure with the club just three points clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone ahead of Sunday's trip to big-spending Manchester City.

Sbragia said: "It is exciting, but we have got to stay in the Premier League. We have got to stay up there, that's important, that's number one for us.

"As soon as that happens, we can probably start discussing the way forward. But at present, we have got to move up that table.

"There's always pressure on the manager. We have got to be successful, we live or die on results."

Even during the latter days of Keane's tenure at the Stadium of Light, it became apparent that the free spending of the previous two years - they invested in excess of £70million in the playing staff, a large proportion of the later expenditure underwritten by Short - had to come to an end.

By the same token, the Wearsiders have acknowledged the difficulties facing supporters and have announced ground-breaking reductions in season ticket prices for next season.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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