Sam Allardyce will use the final half-hour of Sunderland’s defeat at Chelsea to provide a crumb of comfort to his beleaguered players.
Sunderland’s first-half display at Stamford Bridge on Saturday was arguably as bad anything produced by the Black Cats this season, let alone under Allardyce’s tenure.
We have to keep doing what we did in the last half-hour, keep showing the players what they achieved thenSam Allardyce
But after substitute Fabio Borini pulled a goal back 10 minutes into the second half – for the first goal of his second Sunderland spell – Allardyce’s men finally sprang into life,with the Italian and then Jermain Defoe spurning further opportunities.
With Sunderland’s confidence fragile as the gap with the safety mark extended to five points, Allardyce will reinforce the positives from that finale to treat the fear factor which appears to be embedded in the side.
Allardyce said: “We have to keep doing what we did in the last half-hour, keep showing the players what they achieved then and say they’ve got to do it for 90 minutes.
“Then you hope that when your front players get the chance, they can get the goals which need to come your way.
“In the position we’re in, you always have to try to score the first goal.
“That’s the big challenge for us, because I think if we do that, we get results.
“And obviously, the three wins we’ve achieved have all been with clean sheets.”
In a strange atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge, where the home supporters showed near-unanimous support for the sacked Jose Mourinho, Chelsea’s players produced a performance which was unrecognisable from some of the lethargic, uninspired displays previously on show this season.
But Allardyce felt that the defeat stemmed from Sunderland’s feeble resistance, rather than Chelsea necessarily reaching the heights from last season’s title win.
“I think we’ve gifted Chelsea the opportunity to be very good by our poor performance and they took full advantage of it,” he added.
“That’s what you expect with the squad of players they’ve got.
“We encouraged them so much that it was mind-boggling to me to see my players play with so much fear and so much worry about the opposition that they could hardly put one foot in front of the other.
“At least we got better when we changed the system, put the subs on, but by that time it was too late.
“Chelsea thoroughly deserved to win and, obviously, it’s a big result for them and a very poor result for us.”