Dick Advocaat says his new-look Sunderland side have to remain among the pack over the next three months, until he has faith in a settled line-up.
After bringing eight summer signings to the Stadium of Light, Advocaat is pleased with the balance of the Sunderland squad and is confident that the Black Cats have sufficient depth to secure their Premier League status, even if they are lying at the bottom of the table ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Spurs.
That’s why we have to try to stay in touch until December.
But Advocaat has had little time to fine-tune his first-choice XI with three of the eight new arrivals finalising their moves in the final week of the transfer window and several signings rusty after limited involvement at their former clubs last season.
The ex-Rangers boss has an idea, on paper, of Sunderland’s best line-up, but believes it will take until December to see if that proves to be successful.
Until then, Advocaat wants to ensure that Sunderland are not cast adrift in the fight for survival, with seven or eight clubs expected to be involved in the relegation scrap.
Advocaat said: “Until December, the most important thing is to stay in touch with the teams around us.
“I think Lee (Congerton, sporting director) did a great job, and the president (Ellis Short) after spending more money.
“But we need the time for everyone to gel with each other.
“We have ideas about certain positions, but we won’t find out if it’s possible or not until we play more games.
“If you see our pre-season, that was not good because we played differently.
“Now we have an idea, but can that idea work?
“That’s why we have to try to stay in touch until December.”
It was a difficult transfer window for Sunderland, with several deals falling through when they were on the verge of being completed, and both Leroy Fer and Nicolas Lombaerts failing medicals.
The captures of the Fabio Borini, Ola Toivonen and DeAndre Yedlin in the final week of the window addressed several areas that Advocaat felt needed strengthening, but he has been glad to see the back of the wheeling and dealing to focus on the options that he has available.
“Yes, I’m pleased the window is shut because it was a really, really strange period,” he added.
“I think the squad has been improved enough with the players we have now.
“There are some positions that the media think are better than they are.
“Can those players develop themselves to become better than what they are doing now?
“But I still think the squad is better than last year, I have no doubts about that.”