DICK ADVOCAAT took encouragement from his opening game in charge of Sunderland, despite the Black Cats suffering a cruel late defeat.
Diafra Sakho’s last-gasp winner denied Advocaat a point on his Sunderland bow at West Ham today, in a scrappy, ugly encounter, where there was little to pick between the two sides.
Sunderland’s performance was much-improved, with Jermain Defoe spurning a glorious first half chance to give the Black Cats the advantage.
But although fellow strugglers Burnley and Leicester also suffered defeats, Sunderland remain engulfed in the thick of the relegation dogfight - one point and one place above the bottom three.
Head coach Advocaat said: “It gives me a lot of confidence the way we worked against a team who we know are difficult to play against or get any control.
“They play a lot of long balls and then support. But we did really well.
“We did not give a lot chances away. We had the first one with Defoe.
“If he had scored, then there are options. They have to commit more players, take more risks and leave more space.
“I did not expect a goal from West Ham because I thought it was under control.
“But unfortunately, the luck was not on our side.”
Advocaat rightly felt aggrieved at West Ham’s goal after referee Lee Mason failed to spot a blatant foul on Seb Larsson in the build-up.
The 67-year-old admits at that stage he felt Sunderland were going to see the game through until the finale, particularly after Hammers skipper and ex-Newcastle midfielder Kevin Nolan was taken off.
On the goal, Advocaat said: “Everybody saw it, but not the referee. I’m not complaining by the way.
“We deserved the first point with the way we worked and we understood things tactics-wise.
“The players did everything they had to do.
“When they took Nolan off, I was quite pleased by that.
“And then suddenly, in the last minute, they get the moment in front of our goal. A one-two and then it’s open.”