Gus Poyet was left facing a bleak Christmas as 10-man Sunderland's must-win clash with Norwich ended in a 0-0 draw.
The Black Cats, who dumped Chelsea out of the League Cup in midweek to book a place in the semi-finals, could not repeat the dose when they needed it most to leave themselves firmly rooted to the foot of the Premier League table.
Sunderland have now won just four of their last 32 league games, and a paltry tally of 10 points from their opening 16 fixtures of the season leaves them in pole position to slip out of the top flight unless they can engineer a major fightback.
Defender Wes Brown, sent off in stoppage time for a foul on substitute Ricky van Wolfswinkel, came closest to a winner when he hit the outside of the post with a 57th-minute header, while Ki Sung-yueng missed the target with Canaries keeper John Ruddy missing in action.
But despite the Black Cats stretching Norwich repeatedly after the break, they were unable to find the breakthrough to leave the bulk of a crowd of 37,778 fearing the worst.
A late goal from Matej Vydra brought West Brom's losing streak to an end as they drew 1-1 with Hull at The Hawthorns in their first match since the sacking of their head coach Steve Clarke.
The Baggies, overseen by caretaker boss Keith Downing, looked worryingly short of confidence in a first half lacking in quality from either side. They fell behind in the 28th minute when Jake Livermore finished a Tigers counter-attack, the on-loan Tottenham midfielder slipping the ball beneath Ben Foster having been teed up by Danny Graham.
West Brom improved after the break and they equalised with four minutes of normal time remaining. In a neat move by the hosts, Vydra, who is on loan from Udinese, collected the ball from his fellow substitute Zoltan Gera and slotted in his maiden goal for Albion. It was the first point West Brom have secured in five games and they remain 16th in the table, while Hull stay 12th.
Elsewhere, Tony Pulis tasted home defeat as Crystal Palace manager for the first time as his side were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Newcastle at a wet and windy Selhurst Park.
Former Palace favourite Alan Pardew and his Magpies have racked up impressive away victories at Tottenham and Manchester United in recent weeks and it was Yohan Cabaye, the returning match-winner from Old Trafford, who struck in the 25th minute to open the scoring as the visitors went on to win 3-0.
The France international was recalled after missing the draw against Southampton due to accruing five yellow cards and his deflected strike set Newcastle on their way to another win on the road. Palace enjoyed their best spell of possession following Cabaye's effort but their chances of taking anything out of the game were shortened when Danny Gabbidon turned a dangerous cross past his own goalkeeper shortly before half-time.
Palace did not show enough of an attacking threat to take anything from the game and the better chances of the second half also went the way of the visitors, with Yoan Gouffran's late effort hitting a post before the third came courtesy of a late penalty from substitute Hatem Ben Arfa.
And Peter Crouch scored the winner as Stoke secured bragging rights in the Midlands with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium.
After a drab first half, substitute Charlie Adam gave Stoke the lead in the 51st minute from Crouch's knockdown.
It was cancelled out 15 minutes later as Libor Kozak pounced on a horrible mistake from Erik Pieters but the Dutchman's blushes were spared when Crouch restored Stoke's lead in the 70th minute.
That was the way it stayed as Mark Hughes’ side secured back-to-back home wins in the Premier League and climbed above Villa into the top half of the table.