Ex-Sunderland star highlights key strength Advocaat has instilled

Gary Rowell has highlighted the key strength Dick Advocaat has brought to Sunderland.

Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, former midfielder Rowell believes that the Sunderland players are starting to show fight and a desire to work for one another since the appointment of Dick Advocaat as head coach.

The Black Cats legend said: “It was great to see Sunderland’s players all working for each other, in a way that hasn’t always been apparent this season.

“They defended from the front, with Jermain Defoe, Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher all closing down and pressing Newcastle when they were in possession, and from there it spread throughout the team.

“They hunted in packs and didn’t allow Newcastle time on the ball, and that gave them the platform to produce a winning performance.”

Although it was a marvellous goal that secured the three points for Sunderland, with Jermain Defoe’s long-range strike helping to lift the Black Cats further away from the relegation places, the entire performance hinted at a likely Premier League survival.

Advocaat is known to preach a high-pressing system, and all the forwards were utilised as deep lying strikers, acting in defensive capacities as well as attacking. Defoe may win the plaudits for his finish, but it was actually the dropping deep that was most impressive by the forward, who has commonly been regarded as nothing more than a goalscoring poacher.

In the latter days of Gus Poyet’s time in charge at the Stadium of Light, there was little to cheer about, and a host of performances suggested a team of players who were unwilling to perform for one another.

Advocaat has changed this completely, despite being in charge on Wearside for just over two weeks, and the playing squad are now playing as one.

The Dutch coach’s tactical changes may prove important as Sunderland look to secure their top flight survival, but his ability to bring a squad together and get them fighting for one another could be the biggest strength that Advocaat will bring to the Stadium of Light.

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