DICK Advocaat says he needed to make a half-time change to Sunderland’s system to come away with anything from Stoke.
Despite Connor Wickham giving Sunderland a dream start after just a minute at the Britannia Stadium, the Black Cats found themselves on the back foot for large portions of the first half against the Potters.
Head coach Advocaat had reverted to an orthodox 4-4-2 at kick-off, but Sunderland found themselves overran in the middle of the park, with Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam controlling proceedings.
But Advocaat sacrificed Will Buckley for Danny Graham at half-time and switched to a 4-3-3 formation, which prompted a much-improved second half from Sunderland, who looked a far more proficient outfit.
“Tactically-wise, we changed it because too many players had too much space for them,” said Advocaat.
“We changed it to 4-3-3 and from that moment on, it looked much better because we started to play.
“The first half was too difficult to the majority of the players.
“That second half was much better football-wise.
“That’s the reason I made the change, not because Buckley played poor.
“Our midfield was better organised, and then you get your chances.
“But we still had to work very hard to get that result.”
While Sunderland spurned several chances in the second half to come away with maximum points, Advocaat was heartened to see his side creating opportunities after scoring just three times in the previous eight games.
“The good thing is that we tried to play football in the second half and had opportunities to score goals,” he said. “That was the most important thing.
“We only scored one, but we could have scored two or three goals.
“We didn’t score, but creating is very important in my opinion.
“We had good opportunities to score, but that’s what we have to improve.”