Sam Allardyce says Sunderland’s players have to be “flexible” if they are to build on Wear-Tyne derby glory and avoid the drop.
Sunderland will strive to avoid a pattern of suffering defeat after beating Newcastle in tomorrow’s trip to Everton – a pattern which has dogged them following each of the last four wins over the Magpies.
It’s about the lads being aware of that and being aware of who they’re playing against and where their strengths and weaknesses are.
While Allardyce hopes the 3-0 victory last weekend will provide a confidence boost to his players, the new Sunderland boss’s focus is firmly on how to consolidate the opening step in the Black Cats’ bid to move away from the Premier League danger zone.
The ex-West Ham boss has stressed to his players that they must be similarly forward-thinking and grasp that what has proved to be successful in one game, will not necessarily work in another.
“We’ve got a stat that we’ve got to overcome of not winning the last four games after the Newcastle match,” said Allardyce.
“It’s about the lads being aware of that and being aware of who they’re playing against and where their strengths and weaknesses are.
“If they are flexible enough to realise that we have to change our thinking in every game and sometimes change the shape of the team and decide on different tactics, then it’s one of the key reasons why we’ll get out of trouble.
“That’s what I’ve done everywhere I’ve been.
“When I think we’re good enough to beat the opposition, we play a more attacking formation.
“When I think we’re not as good, I put in a more protective and defensive formation, but also point out the weaknesses where you may get a result, so ultimately you can get a win.
“If they’re flexible in that way, we can maybe get out of trouble.”
While Sunderland have been cursed after the derby in recent seasons, Goodison Park has proved to be a happy hunting ground recently, with the Black Cats aiming for a third successive win there for the first time since 1904.
Dick Advocaat’s side rode their luck last May, yet came away with arguably THE key result of the survival battle after triumphing 2-0.
“Let’s hope we can be as fortunate at Everton as we were last year,” added Allardyce.
“I seem to remember that Danny Graham’s goal was a bit of a generous deflection.”
“But then I have to say that the team defended heroically; backs against the wall, determination, desire, throwing your body on the line.
“You have to do what is needed in every particular game, and they protected that lead to get a very important victory to get out of trouble again.”