Key man Defoe confident of early-season success as Sunderland look to buck historic trend

Sunderland goalscorer Jermain Defoe runs to the Sunderland fans after netting at Manchester City. Picture by Frank Reid
Sunderland goalscorer Jermain Defoe runs to the Sunderland fans after netting at Manchester City. Picture by Frank Reid
0
Have your say

Sunderland have not won a Premier League game in August since the 2010-11 campaign.

It is a shocking record which has led to season-long battles against relegation for the past four years.

Despite the agonising 2-1 opening day defeat at Manchester City on Saturday, Jermain Defoe is confident that this season will be different.

He believes if the team keep producing similar performances then they will soon begin to pick up points early in the season.

Middlesbrough are next up at the Stadium of Light this Sunday, with a trip to Southampton to follow before the first international break.

“The manager was happy with the effort we put in, getting tight and stopping them from playing,” said Defoe, reflecting on the Etihad Stadium clash. “It is a difficult place to come.

“The new lads did well, I thought they were brilliant.

“Towards the end, I thought we’d got the point, maybe we deserved it, but they got a late goal.

“We move on – it is only the first game of the season.

“More performances like that and we will pick up all our points at the start of the season.

“If you look at the way we finished, we want to try and continue that if we can.

“A new manager has come in, some things take time, but training has been very good.

“A lot of possession and shape work, so the players know what to do without the ball and, when you have the right shape, it is less running for the team.

“When we get the ball back, it is important we go forward with pace and try and create chances.

“The forward lads then have to make it count, especially at this level.”

Sunderland fell behind within four minutes, Patrick van Aanholt’s clumsy sliding challenge on Raheem Sterling resulting in a penalty, which Sergio Aguero had no problem scoring.

Defoe, who saw Willy Caballero save his first-half effort, levelled on 71 minutes with a close-range finish before Paddy McNair nodded the ball into his own net late on for City’s winner.

“I had the chance in the first half, but, in games like this when you won’t see much of the ball, it is important to stay focused and wait,” added Defoe.

“There were so many positives to take from the game, though. We worked on a lot of shape in training and the manager is good on that.

“They didn’t create too many chances. At times, you don’t even know what formation they are playing – they pop up in different holes.

“You have to wait, stay focused and not get frustrated.

“When a chance came, I knew I had to score and after that you want to try and see the game out.

“They then pushed forward in numbers. Even after that, our lads looked really fit and tried to get forward.

“If we continue like that, we’ll be fine.”