Advocaat says where Sunderland must improve, singles out Wickham for praise

Dick Advocaat will be looking to claim his first victory as Sunderland manager after the international break.

The Dutch coach could only manage a loss in his opening game in charge of the Black Cats, and he has told the Sunderland Echo what his team must work on improving.

He said: “As a start, it’s working hard as a team and playing as a team and then your individual skills will come as well, in my opinion.

“That will help us for Newcastle. The most important thing is that everyone worked hard.”

Advocaat did not change too much from Gus Poyet’s time in charge at the Stadium of Light for his debut game, although he preferred to play with a narrow 4-3-3 with three strikers, rather than the flatter 4-5-1 with wide players.

Although they failed to find the back of the net, Jermain Defoe, who played as the main striker should really have scored, and the work of Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher was impressive.

They frequently dropped deep, as well as patrolling the flanks, to offer Defoe support in the entire final third, and Wickham especially was singled out for praise by Advocaat.

“The way Wickham played was excellent, unbelievable – his power and his skills,” the Dutch veteran added.

Wickham has frequently been played out of position this season, having moved from his central striking role into more of a workhorse style wide-man.

Poyet utilised him as a defensive winger, and although given a more attacking role under Advocaat, his main priority is to work for the team.

Although that is unlikely to bring Wickham goals, his performances as a team worker will bring praise from Advocaat, and it is no surprise that the coach has singled out Wickham as the player that the rest of the Sunderland team should be looking to emulate.

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