Chris Coleman tasted defeat in his opening game but Lewis Grabban insists there were “vast improvements” after just one training session with the new boss.
And the club’s top scorer – who netted his tenth of the season in the 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa – believes Coleman’s style of play is perfectly suited to his game.
The Welshman was able to put his new side through their paces just once before the trip to the Midlands but despite the lack of preparation time, Grabban feels Coleman has had an instant and positive influence on the squad.
Sadly the Bournemouth loanee’s goal 20 minutes from time proved nothing more than a consolation with bottom-of-the-table Sunderland now 16 games without a league win.
Yet despite the result, Grabban was encouraged by the performance ahead of Saturday’s crunch Championship fixture away at third-bottom Burton Albion.
“The manager has come in and only had one session but there were vast improvements from the last game so we have to take the positives,” said Grabban.
“We didn’t get a clear-cut chance I would say. I still thought we built it up well around their box but we had no real clear-cut chance in the first half.
“But hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll be able to do that.
“It’s very frustrating and I thought we did well in most spells of the game, but it’s still early.”
The appointment of Coleman certainly lifted the Black Cats’ faithful, and Grabban feels it has had a similar impact on the dressing room.
And the in-form striker revealed that the new boss is keen to get to know his players and build the team unity that his Welsh side were renowned for.
“He’s been really positive,” Grabban said.
“He’s highlighted, as we already know, how difficult it’s going to be. We’re in a difficult spot but we need to keep faith and hopefully we can turn it around.
“I think he’s going to build a close-knit team.
“He’s trying to get to know the players as well and he’s trying to do that with everyone to see how certain people react in situations and how he can get his information across at half-time.
“He’s just getting used to the team and we’re getting used to him.
“The club did well [to bring Coleman in]. The players were happy and now we just have to kick on.”
What was evident from Coleman’s first game in charge is that he will try and get his Sunderland side to play good football.
The Black Cats enjoyed some good spells of possession in the Midlands and, even if the final pass was often lacking, knocked the ball around with confidence.
Grabban was in the thick of the action too, often finding pockets of space between Villa’s centre backs which presented promising opportunities.
And the striker revealed that Coleman was able to get across his footballing philosophy in his only pre-match session, while also claiming the Welshman’s preferred style of play will suit him better.
“It’s early days. He’s only had one day but obviously he likes to play on the deck,” Grabban said.
“He’s a footballing type of manager and that’s been clear from the first day. To be honest that is all he’s been able to get across in the one session.
“I prefer the ball to my feet and on the deck than higher balls so it should suit me.”
Two of Grabban’s teammates, Wales internationals Adam Matthews and Jonny Williams – who has undergone surgery on a damaged shoulder – are well acquainted with their new club manager.
Grabban didn’t need to consult the pair on what the new boss is like, the 29-year-old adding that Coleman’s reputation from his time as Wales boss precedes him.
“Not really but everyone that speaks about him is positive,” said Grabban, when asked whether he’d sought the opinions of Matthews and Williams. “He had a good spell with Wales which everyone knows so it was there to see anyway.”