Dick Advocaat has refused to blame Sunderland’s trans-Atlantic pre-season for their awful start to the campaign, even if he admits it wasn’t ideal.
Sunderland played six friendlies in four different countries prior to the Premier League getting underway after flying to America, Canada and Germany.
I did not see a good match in pre-season, but I thought that once everybody gets into better shape then they will show it in the seasonDick Advocaat
That schedule was planned prior to Advocaat agreeing to return to the Stadium of Light, with Sunderland struggling to impress in any of their six warm-up games and taking that form into the opening two competitive fixtures, where they were swept aside by Leicester and Norwich.
When asked if it was the pre-season that he would have wanted, Advocaat replied: “Definitely not.
“But pre-season was already organised.
“It’s not an excuse though. Other players came in later because they had been on international duty.
“But we can only become better. You see that with John O’Shea as well. As he becomes fitter and sharper, you can see that.
“We need a little bit of time.
“I did not see a good match in pre-season, but I thought that once everybody gets into better shape they will show it in the season. But it has gone on.
“That is my biggest frustration.”
Advocaat held a clear-the-air team meeting with his players after the humiliation against Norwich last weekend, before the squad subsequently held a discussion amongst themselves.
The ex-Rangers boss hopes that will prompt an upturn in work-rate and intensity against Swansea today, even if Sunderland succumb to a third successive defeat.But there remain underlying issues of a lack of quality in the squad, even if Sunderland are trying to address that.
“I cannot ask a player to do things that he cannot do,” added Advocaat.
“At the moment I have to accept certain things. I don’t want to accept them, but I know that he (the player) cannot do any better.
“If you bring in more expensive players, then they perform on a different level and that makes it easier.
“If Manchester City need a central defender then they buy one for £45m. Chelsea were losing at one point and they bought Pedro for £21m.
“We are not in that market.”