Analysis: Dick Advocaat keeps his counsel but quality signings needed at Sunderland

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Few parallels can be drawn between Dick Advocaat and his predecessor in the Sunderland hotseat.

While Advocaat’s experience was one of the key ingredients behind the Dutchman’s ability to keep Sunderland in the Premier League last season, it was Gus Poyet’s inexperience which contributed to his downfall.

Sunderland players training

Sunderland players training

Had Poyet chosen his words a little more diplomatically in both private and in public, then he may have been given a bit more breathing space.

This time 12 months ago was a case in point.

Poyet was a loose canon during Sunderland’s jaunt to Portugal - consistently putting pressure on Lee Congerton and the need for new signings with thinly-veiled digs at the sluggish nature of the transfer progress.

A year later, and Advocaat is proving to be the complete opposite.

As against Darlington last week, Advocaat opted against any post-match press chitter-chatter after the defeat to Sacramento Republic in the early hours. He even had to be cajoled to give a few words of assessment to the club’s website.

While that wasn’t great news for myself, it’s perhaps understandable.

Advocaat doesn’t enjoy (and that’s an understatement) getting involved in the tabloid transfer circus at this time of year, plus there’s the side-show of Adam Johnson’s legal problems to comment on.

Perhaps it’s wise to keep his counsel, particularly when the world and his wife knows that Sunderland still need another four signings who fit that remit of immediately improving the starting XI - Jeremain Lens being one of them.

But Advocaat isn’t starting with a clean piece of paper. He will have to incorporate some of those with question marks hanging over their heads in his squad for next season.

Of those who could be vulnerable to being sold this summer, Steven Fletcher was the player in red and white that did his cause no harm whatsoever this morning.

Fletcher looked sharp in his first pre-season outing; his hold-up play and movement intelligent during the opening 45 minutes, when he was denied what would have been an excellent goal on the stroke of half-time by the woodwork.

But there weren’t many others from that category who stood-out.

Vito Mannone will have been disappointed with the winning goal, while if this had been a competitive outing, he would surely have faced a red card in the final 10 minutes for handball outside the area.

Danny Graham was all hustle and bustle, yet offered little quality when the ball came to feet. Ditto, Will Buckley.

And Liam Bridcutt was frighteningly exposed time and again during the second half after being asked to fill in the right-back slot, due to Advocaat’s lack of numbers.

As was seen during the 8-0 mauling at Southampton last season, Bridcutt is no right-back.

One player who did do himself some good was academy product Tom Beadling, despite being used as a makeshift left-back, who looked far more comfortable than he had against Darlington.

But Advocaat clearly needs new faces on board, and quality ones at that.

While he may not want to say it in public, it’s the obvious truth that Sunderland cannot escape.