Sam Allardyce has warned that Sunderland will have to perform “a lot better” if they are to get out of relegation trouble.
At the 10th time of asking, Sunderland finally recorded an elusive first Premier League win of the season yesterday, as they set a record of six successive Wear-Tyne derby triumphs.
Registering three points was arguably more important for Sunderland than local bragging rights after the Black Cats had threatened to be cast adrift at the bottom of the table, with the only winless record in the top four divisions.
But, after a maiden win, Sunderland’s position instantly looks a touch healthier, with Allardyce’s men leapfrogging both Aston Villa and Newcastle, and are now within two points of fourth-bottom Bournemouth.
However, new boss Allardyce is far from carried away by the euphoria stemming from yet another derby triumph after watching Sunderland dominated by the Magpies for the first half.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do and we have to get a lot better than we were yesterday,” said Allardyce.
“Enjoy the victory lads, and well done, but we have to be a lot better than the performance we’ve shown if we’re going to get out of trouble and get into mid-table.
“It’s great to do what we’ve done, but there’s a long way still to go.
“They can all improve on this performance, but hopefully it will build their confidence.
“Confidence comes from winning football matches, however you win them, but I’m going to be pushing the lads hard to get better than this performance.
“It might sound a bit harsh – but we need to get a lot better.”
Sunderland will continue their bid for Premier League survival at Everton on Sunday, aiming to secure a third successive victory at Goodison Park.
But Allardyce will have to overcome Sunderland’s pattern of losing the game after securing derby joy – a fatet which has befallen the Black Cats after each of their last four victories over Newcastle.
* Sunderland’s table-topping Under-21s entertain Manchester United at Eppleton CW tonight in the Barclays U21 Premier League Northern Division (7pm).