Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, Wickham highlighted Advocaat’s man-management skills as one of his best abilities.
“I have not spoken to him as in sitting down with him in his office for a one-on-one but he is very good at man-management,” the 22-year-old striker said. “He pulls players over on the quiet and that is good for the players to know they can speak to him.
“The boys are responding well to his tactics and things are looking much more positive.”
Unlike the tactical and personnel changes that Advocaat has made to the Sunderland team, man management ability is something that is hard to judge.
Only players close to the manager can see just how they control their squad, and Wickham’s words will have to be trusted.
What can be seen from afar is the on-pitch effect that a new manager has had, and although Advocaat has only managed one win and one loss from his opening two games, there is a clear improvement in the mentality and cohesion of the selected teams.
They were unfortunate to not at least gain a point in the loss to West Ham, whilst the victory over local rivals Newcastle was an even greater improvement.
The tactical effects of his change from a 4-5-1 are evident, but it is the real work-ethic and willingness to put in effort that should be praised. In the latter days of Gus Poyet’s reign none of this could be seen, and the Dutch boss has revitalised a squad who were likely to get relegated into a truly fighting camp of probable Premier League survivors.