Lack of team-work is to blame at Sunderland, says Dick Advocaat

Jermain Defoe in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa.

Jermain Defoe in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa.

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SUNDERLAND’S recent problems have stemmed from a lack of collective harmony, believes Dick Advocaat.

New Sunderland boss Advocaat takes charge of the Black Cats for the first time at West Ham tomorrow night, having been plunged into a trouble-shooting role to keep the club in the Premier League.

You cannot rely on only one player, you have to do it as a team, as a unit

Dick Advocaat

The 67-year-old has been aware for several weeks of a possible vacancy at the Stadium of Light, as the pressure mounted on Gus Poyet, and duly began to pay attention to Sunderland’s fortunes.

Since putting pen to paper on a two-month contract, Advocaat has continued to brush up on Sunderland after watching footage of recent games.

And the former Holland manager has pinpointed a side working as individuals, rather than as a cohesive unit.

“We started doing the training on Tuesday and then I have seen some games in the last couple of weeks, as well,” he said.

“I didn’t see a team, I saw individuals.

“If you want to be successful, you have to be a team.

“When we get the ball, we know what we have to do, but it’s also about what we do with out it. That’s always crucial.

“They have to know that that is an important part of football.”

Advocaat reiterated that message when asked about the lack of service to Jermain Defoe, with the January signing forced to feed on scraps since scoring in two of his opening three Premier League games in red and white.

“You cannot rely on only one player, you have to do it as a team, as a unit,” he said.

“Defoe is one of the important players of the squad.”

Like Sunderland, injury-hit West Ham are struggling for form, with Sam Allardyce’s men on a seven-game winless run.

But Advocaat still expects an uphill challenge at Upton Park, on his Premier League bow.

“Sometimes it is easier to play games like Arsenal than facing a team like West Ham,” he added.

“West Ham are a very physical team, a very strong team, but they also have a lot of injuries.

“I always feel that it’s about what we do and if we can show them what we want to do.

“We have to find the solution to break down the way they like to play.

“If the players fight like crazy, the fans will stand behind them. That’s what we need, especially in this period because the fans also want to watch the highest level.”