Back to basics approach paid off for Sunderland big style

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Some may say our win over Crystal Palace papered over the cracks.

They might say that we didn’t play very well, yet somehow managed to sneak a result.

I’d argue that Gus Poyet took to preparations for Monday night with trowel in hand, hoping to fill the gaps in the crumbling wall that is Sunderland’s season.

After a difficult day at Southampton and a home defeat to Arsenal that was riddled with errors, Sunderland needed to get back to basics at Selhurst Park.

It wasn’t pretty, but the lads returned to Wearside with three points in the bag.

The win was vitally important. Especially with the run of fixtures to come. But we came through a big test on Monday night.

The desire, resolve and determination that had been regularly questioned over the last two or three weeks was tested and Sunderland came through it with flying colours.

This type of game was always going to present that assessment rather than the Arsenal game. The players should be proud of that and look to build, laying to rest the ghosts of a turbulent run of form.

As a unit, you could see Sunderland were low on confidence. But the back to basics approach employed by the manager and his staff ensured that we stayed in the game during some heavy pressure, particularly at the start of the second half.

In the Premier League, for a team like Sunderland, this is what is going to see you in good stead over the course of the season.

It’s not going to be spectacular, free flowing football every week. We might get to see that every so often. We might get the odd moment of flare, or a player who has a great few months and is seemingly wining games on his own.

It’s important to make sure the side is built on solid foundations so that when these things start to happen, there’s a platform for them to occur.

Sunderland did play well in this respect. As an entire team, they weren’t functioning at their optimum. But in some areas they certainly were. The back four was very solid and dealt with the pace of Zaha and Bolasie very well.

John O’Shea was superb in the centre of defence. Anthony Reveillere, on debut, played in both full-back roles and showed his maturity.

They recovered well after losing the excellent Patrick van Aanholt, showing the grit required to win games at the top level. Sometimes you’ve just got to tough it out.

The much maligned Seb Larsson was fantastic in the centre of the park, running himself into the ground for the cause.

Steven Fletcher took his goals very well indeed. That was his best Sunderland performance in my opinion. He took responsibility as the lone forward and it paid off for himself and his team mates.

Gus Poyet will take this back to basics approach into Sunday’s game with Everton.

Hopefully, with a little more confidence, his side can show a bit more quality and cohesion and take a positive result into the international break.