NEW managers traditionally attempt a charm offensive when first presented to the media.
Admittedly, Dick Advocaat’s two predecessors had to stray slightly from that plan.
Paolo Di Canio spent much of his opening press conference denying that he was a fascist, while Gus Poyet spent much of his opening press conference denying that he was another Di Canio.
But when Advocaat was finally put up for interview, there was no real effort to captivate scribes and television cameras, or produce a detailed explanation of his footballing philosophy.
This was no-nonsense stuff from the Dutchman. Short, sharp answers. Caution or evasion when asked the inevitable questions about Adam Johnson, Jermain Defoe, team selection and points targets.
There was very much the impression that Advocaat wanted to get his compulsory media duties out of the way so he could get back out on the training ground.
But that’s only right. In the situation Sunderland are in, all the distractions and hoo-ha of the Premier League circus are completely redundant.
Results are all that matter now. The talking is simply hot air.
Neither does Advocaat need to get the media onside or lay out a blueprint for Sunderland’s development under his stewardship.
While Sunderland will prudently assess all options in the summer and Advocaat won’t publicly rule out a longer stay at the Stadium of Light (after all it’s dangerous for players to know the manager definitely won’t be here next season) it is near-certain that this is just a two-month stint.
Advocaat only (only!) has to keep Sunderland in the Premier League. What follows is not his concern.
But what DID we learn from Advocaat’s opening gambit?
Well, he’s clearly been keeping an eye on Sunderland’s fortunes over recent weeks after being made aware through a third party about the possibility of a job on Wearside a month or so ago.
Turning the clock back, that means Sunderland have been considering the options since around the time of the shambolic performances against QPR and Bradford.
That’s no surprise. It would be extreme naivety to believe Sunderland weren’t wisely considering contingency plans if the deterioration under Gus Poyet continued.
Advocaat immediately spotted the problems with his Sunderland side too – not enough cohesion, not enough work without the ball, not enough time spent in possession.
All have been blatantly obvious over recent games.
Predictably, Advocaat believes Sunderland have sufficient quality to beat the drop and he has the capabilities to oversee that rejuvenation, although he’s hardly going to say otherwise.
But there was a marked lack of rhetoric or sweeping statements from Advocaat.
It was all business. That might be just what Sunderland need.