Sunderland players’ focus has to be solely on survival fight, insists David Moyes

Sunderland boss David Moyes watches his side in Saturday's win over Watford. Picture by Frank Reid
Sunderland boss David Moyes watches his side in Saturday's win over Watford. Picture by Frank Reid
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David Moyes says his players’ focus must be purely on winning football matches and not off-the-field issues surrounding Sunderland.

Sunderland’s transfer business next month will be ”very limited” given the club’s £140million debt and the Premier League financial fair play restrictions around wages.

The bleak financial picture was splashed across the back pages last week.

Owner Ellis Short, meanwhile, continues to bankroll the club but is open to offers from potential buyers if it is in Sunderland’s best interests.

But Moyes says his players must focus on their job of keeping Sunderland in the Premier League.

Chances of survival were handed a fresh boost with the 1-0 weekend home victory over Watford, Sunderland climbing to third-bottom.

“No, I’ve not,” said Moyes, when asked if he had spoken to the players about a siege mentality given the back page headlines last week.

“I’ve not spoken to the players about it, because I see that the players’ task is to focus on their jobs, to focus on the next game.

“And they’re galvanised in the dressing-room just now, they know how big a win it was for us because we’ve been saying it to them since Wednesday night how important it was, they knew it and they’ve done that.

“They’ve been here before some of them [in a relegation fight], not all of them, but I’ve not spoken to them about anything else because, at the end of the day, it’s up to them to do their best.

“They’re paid well as professionals, and their job isn’t to worry about anything going on off the field.”

Wage restrictions mean Sunderland can’t even make a loan signing unless wages are freed up by selling players.

Chief executive Martin Bain outlined the financial problems facing Sunderland last week.

Years of paying out for players but getting little back in sales, management upheaval, instalments for previous signings and a high wage bill upwards of £70million contributing to the club’s losses.

Sunderland’s chances of extending their stay in the top flight were given a big boost with victory over Watford ahead of the Boxing Day trip to Old Trafford.