Sunderland’s Larsson: Poyet style is perfect for me

Sebastian Larsson.
Sebastian Larsson.
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SEB LARSSON has backed Gus Poyet’s footballing philosophy to bring the best out of him.

Larsson produced an immense display in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City, albeit the Swedish international was fortunate to escape unpunished from a first half studs-up challenge on Javi Garcia.

The 28-year-old came in for criticism from supporters during both Martin O’Neill and Paolo Di Canio’s reigns after being thrust into a central midfield role, and he admitted himself that some of his performances last season were below-par.

But Larsson says Poyet’s possession-based strategy plays to his strengths and hopes to continue in that vein of form after returning from international duty, with Sweden facing Portugal in the World Cup play-offs.

Larsson told the Echo: “I think the manager’s style of play suits me... much more than it has done under previous regimes.

“It’s up to the manager to decide how the team plays and you have to adapt as a player.

“But I love what we’re trying to do now and hopefully we can be successful.

“I felt good on Sunday.

“The first half felt really good, although the second half was a lot more defensive work.

“I feel like I’m getting better and the pleasing thing was probably the defensive side.

“I won quite a bit of ball and had to work really hard. I was fairly pleased with my performance.”

Sunderland began to showcase Poyet’s blueprint for changing the fortunes of the second bottom Black Cats in last week’s Capital One Cup victory over Southampton.

Poyet’s men continued in that fashion in the opening 45 minutes against Man City before the second half developed into a dogged rearguard action from the hosts.

And while Larsson is not getting carried away by Sunderland’s grasp of Poyet’s system, he believes they are on the right lines after winning all three of the head coach’s outings at the Stadium of Light.

“The biggest thing was the three points, but the way we played football in the first half was almost as pleasing,” added Larsson.

“That’s what the manager is trying to get us to do and we’re working really hard on it day-in, day-out at the training ground.

“I think on Sunday we showed that we’re playing some good stuff and we deserved to go in 1-0 up.

“We can’t get ahead of ourselves, but there are pleasing signs and it’s important to build on that momentum and show that what we’re trying to do is working.

“We showed some great signs against Man City that we can keep the ball and play some good football.

“With a little bit more care, we could have had another goal or two.

“We’ve won three out of four games now and that doesn’t sound too bad.”