SUNDERLANDS goal-shy players have demanded more shooting practice at the Academy of Light, Gus Poyet has revealed.
And the head coach has been only too happy to give it to them.
The bottom-of-the-table Black Cats started this week with comfortably one of the worst goals per game ratios in the Premier League, scoring just eight goals in 13 league outings – a dreadful statistic which has to improve dramatically for relegation is to be averted this season.
But on Wednesday the Black Cats made a start to improving that stat, netting three goals against title contenders Chelsea at the Stadium of Light, all notched by different goalscorers – Jozy Altidore, John O’Shea and Phil Bardsley.
And Poyet believes that the team is going in the right direction now both in defence and attack.
“We need to score and it is not only I who knows that – the players know it too,” he said as he looked ahead to tomorrow’s visit of Tottenham, who have managed just 13 goals themselves in 14 matches.
“They have been asking for more shooting practice sessions and I’ve been fine with that – fine, because the more you shoot and the more you practice, the more you score.
“Better practice means the better the chance you have of scoring when games are going on for real.
“But the idea is, not to panic too much about the whole thing, just to work on keeping on creating.”
Poyet has believed for some time that as Sunderland continue to improve, the goals will start coming.
And his review of the 0-0 draw at Villa Park last weekend – where every outfield player he selected had at least one Premier League goal to their name – suggested the Black Cats are not too far away.
“There were two or three actions in the game against Villa where we put the ball across the six-yard box twice – great crosses – and yet the ball went all the way through the area without barely a touch,” said the former Brighton manager.
“That’s the sort of moment where, if you’re on form and winning games, then those chances fly in and, all of a sudden, you’re on course to score goals.
“If you’re on form, it doesn’t even seem to matter about whether you make a clean contact – the chances are it will deflect in off an opposition player!
“When you’re struggling a bit, it’s amazing how those chances just don’t fall for you or don’t go in.”
On Wednesday against Chelsea, the evidence was there that a corner is being turned in front of goal, as the Black Cats scored more goals in a Premier League game than they have all season – albeit still in a defeat.
“We need to keep believing, that is all,” said Poyet.
“On a good day against Aston Villa we would probably have scored two or three and I’m sure, in games in the future, we’ll be playing well enough to get those two or three.
”We just need to try to do it regularly.”