Sunderland’s creators struggle with lack of possession

Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet.
Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet.
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GUS POYET admits he felt sorry for Sunderland’s creative players after spending so long on the back foot against Spurs on Saturday.

Sunderland have been characterised by their eagerness to maintain possession and adopt a patient attacking approach in Poyet’s 11 months at the helm.

But visitors Spurs monopolised control of the ball at the Stadium of Light, with the Black Cats mustering just one shot on target before Harry Kane’s late own goal earned Sunderland a share of the spoils.

The dangerous Adam Johnson and debutant Ricky Alvarez, in particular, were forced to feed on scraps and do most of their work defensively, rather than in the final third.

“It was hard,” said Poyet. “I felt for the players.

“We went to Birmingham (in the League Cup) and we were technically terrible. We couldn’t pass the ball and that wasn’t because of Birmingham, it was because of us.

“But on Saturday, we couldn’t get the ball which is different.

“For players like Ricky Alvarez and Adam Johnson not to have the ball and only running to try to stop the players they’re marking is hard.

“But you need to wait, keep working and working, and sooner or later you’re going to have an opportunity.

“That’s how the players have to manage things on the pitch.

“We work for things, but they are on the pitch.

“There are moments that you somehow have to sort out and get something from the game.

“The mentality helps the formation and the players coming on making a difference.”

Alvarez was thrown straight into the starting line-up after arriving on a season-long loan from Inter Milan on transfer deadline day.

And Poyet believes the 2-2 draw provided the Argentine international with an appropriate eye-opener to the Premier League.

“That was a proper wake-up for Ricky Alvarez,” added Poyet.

“If you don’t want to play a game, it’s this one because of the intensity, the ups and downs and the tackles.

“But now he knows what to expect every week.

“I think everything is set up for Ricky for the future and he knows what to expect in the next few games.

“He’s a good technical player and he’s going to have more of the ball than against Spurs.”

H Sunderland U21s visit Old Trafford tonight to take on Manchester United in the Barclays U21 Premier League’s First Division. Robbie Stockdale’s side have taken a point from their first two games, losing to Liverpool and drawing at Manchester City.

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