Jan Kirchhoff will remain as Sunderland’s midfield enforcer, despite being primarily signed to boost the Black Cats’ defensive options.
Kirchhoff thrived in a holding role in front of the back four in his Stadium of Light debut against Manchester City on Tuesday night after putting his nightmare debut against Spurs firmly behind him.
I thought the performance he gave was an outstanding one. I’d be foolish to even want to try to change him at the moment.
Sunderland spent around £750,000 to bring Kirchhoff from Bayern Munich last month, with a view to the German offering a much-needed option in central defence.
But manager Sam Allardyce was well-aware that Kirchhoff had operated as a defensive midfielder during a loan spell at Schalke last season and, after using the 25-year-old in that role, the Sunderland boss sees no reason to move him into the back-line at present.
“There’s no need to change him from that position after that performance,” said Allardyce.
“I thought the performance he gave was an outstanding one. I’d be foolish to even want to try to change him at the moment.”
Kirchhoff insists he is equally happy to operate in a position which is not foreign to him and allows him to make the most of his 6ft 5in frame.
“I played a lot in centre-midfield at Schalke and Mainz, and also as a substitute at Bayern,” he said.
“I feel very good in this position. I’m not like Yann M’Vila, dribbling with the ball or an Adam Johnson.
“But you have to put in your strengths and put in what you can. I try to play with my strength and help the team to be successful.
“The coach has to decide where he wants my quality on the pitch.”
Kirchhoff’s performance against City was a complete contrast to his previous outing against Spurs, when his lack of match fitness was brutally exposed.
But two 90-minute outings in behind-closed-doors friendlies after that infamous debut at Spurs helped Kirchhoff knock off the rust and he was able to portray a more accurate demonstration of his ability against City.
“The Tottenham game was an unlucky day, especially for me!” he added. “But I got a lot of support from my team-mates and especially the coach, and he knows I was not fit at that time.
“I tried to help the team, it went wrong, but I got a lot of time after that to get fit with two games of 90 minutes with the Under-21s in friendly games.
“That helped me. I’ve worked hard to get fit.
“And now I’m on my way to get my performances better on the pitch. Tuesday was a good performance from the whole team, and I will try to go on from this.”