Victor Anichebe criticises ‘naive’ Sunderland players as club faces relegation

Victor Anichebe
Victor Anichebe

Straight-talking Victor Anichebe has labelled season-long strugglers Sunderland too naive in their battle against the drop.

Sunderland’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester United left the Black Cats 10 points adrift with just seven games to play, with Championship football on the cards next season.

Anichebe says manager David Moyes is always on to his players to remain tight as a unit, stay in the game and maintain their concentration levels even if they go a goal down.

But the 28-year-old says too often Sunderland have shot themselves in the foot by chasing the game and not remaining patient.

“I always speak honestly, I think we have a bit of naivety in our play sometimes,” said fit-again Anichebe.

“We go a goal down and instead of staying tight in our play, really concentrating - that’s the thing the manager is trying to address to the players - you go a goal down, it doesn’t matter, that happens to every team in the Premier League, you need to give yourselves a foundation to come back.

“But when you go a goal down and then concede again, it makes it very difficult for the rest of the team, it makes it so difficult.

“That’s the main thing, the naivety sometimes, sometimes we chase the game and think we need to get the goal straight away, we don’t.

“Look at the game Tottenham played against Swansea, they went down and scored three at the end of the game, speaking back to when we were at Everton, keeping clean sheets these are things we need to do as a team.

“And it’s not the defence, people might say that, it’s not, you keep clean sheets as a team not as individuals.

“Maybe we could have dropped back a bit more, it’s the whole team.

“Those are the foundations we need, you can feel the nervousness when we concede and sometimes we play to that, attack, attack, and then they break on us.

“We have a youngish team, so I think those are things we need to knock out of our game, the manager tells us every week to stay in the game.

“But going 2-0 down gives you a mountain to climb, especially against a team like Manchester United.”

Already trailing to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s fine 30th-minute finish, midfielder Seb Larsson was then controversially sent off for a challenge on Ander Herrera.

That climb became even harder 45 seconds into the second half when Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled the visitor’s lead before Marcus Rashford added a third late on - Sunderland’s 21st defeat of the season.

“I’m feeling downbeat obviously, it’s not a good result,” added Anichebe, who played the full 90 minutes on his return from a knee injury.

“Everything seems to be going against us, I had a half chance there but the keeper came out really quick, it’s the same for me and the rest of the boys, we just need to keep going.

“You see the fans outside there, they support us every game, I think we need to pour everything out for then, we need to just keep fighting and see where it takes it.

“There’s some parts that we can take pride in, obviously I was a bit off it, I’ve been out for a while, but I linked up with JD a couple of times.”