Sunderland midfielder David Vaughan has said the Black Cats are under pressure in the battle for Premier League survival.
Martin O'Neill's side are 15th in the Premier League table, four points above the drop zone, and have won only three of their last 12 games.
They were booed off after drawing 1-1 with Norwich, who were down to ten men for more than an hour, on Sunday.
"There is pressure on us right now," Wales international Vaughan told the Journal. "You do feel it before games, but once you go out on the pitch you put that to the back of your mind and concentrate on playing football.
"When we got in at half-time on Sunday I think we all thought we'd go on and get three points, but it wasn't to be.
"We put in massive effort but ran out of ideas by the end. We needed a bit more imagination in the second half, something we have been missing.
"People need to let off the shackles and just go out there and play. Of course that's easier when the pressure is off, but we get paid to be professional footballers and we need to handle this."
He said the result against Norwich had been "such a disappointment", adding: "We didn't really create any clear-cut chances after they went down to ten men. We didn't put nearly enough pressure on them. It was frustrating."
With Manchester United the next visitors to the Stadium of Light, the Wales international said he believed Sunderland should be in a more comfortable position given the quality of their squad.
"The fact is that we are where we are and that is down to us - players, coaching staff and everyone at the club," he added. "It is our fault, nobody else's, and it's up to us to get ourselves out of this."