'What a place...' Michael Beale's message for Sunderland fans after emotional Stadium of Light afternoon
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An emotional Michael Beale thanked Sunderland fans for the support they gave both him and his young team during the 3-1 win over Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.
Over 40,000 supporters at the Stadium of Light came together on the four-minute mark for a minute's applause in solidarity with Beale's four-year old niece, Poppy, who is fighting Leukemia. Beale was visibly moved on the touchline at the time and again in his post-match press conference, saying the subject was difficult to talk about but thanking everyone connected with the club for their show of support.
The head coach revelled in a special second-half atmosphere, as his time overturned a 1-0 deficit to return to the top six. It has left Beale relishing the rest of the campaign with his young group.
"The highs are real highs when you see that second half," Beale said.
"The lows were a bit lower today at times if I'm honest! What team are we going to be? In moments today...the three goals were fantastic and the feeling in the stadium, the applause they gave me and my family but also in the 79th minute they did it for another person's family and that's fantastic, that's the feeling we have in our club.
"These young players are doing everything they can to make the fans happy, and they're right behind them. It's where we want it to be at the moment. The fans here, when they're behind our team, it's a young team and I don't think even the fans understand how much it lifts them. In that 10 or 15 minute period today when we're scoring goals and attacking and the crowd is up, what a place to play football."
Beale admitted some home truths were required at half time, and has urged his players not to revert back to their first-half performance levels at Huddersfield on Wednesday night. The head coach is hoping that a buoyant second-half atmosphere can stand the club in good stead for the weeks ahead.
"With a new relationship, everything takes time," he said.
"There was a lot of emotion in the air, there were emotional game and we didn't do so well in those games. We have to take that, we have to take the pats on the back when they're deserved and take the feedback when it's not so positive. It's still early days, that's my 10th game, we have everything to prove: me, the players, us as a team and a club. We have everything to prove in the next three months so it should be exciting.
"We're going to go to a team that's fighting for its life on Wednesday so the points are going to be really important for them," he added.
"We don't start 1-0 up or 1-0 down. We reset and must play every single game, every minute of the game with the right mentality and quality. We have to be positive.
"That's what we spoke about at half-time - too many backwards passes, too slow, one too many touches. That's not how we want to play football and it's important that we reset and we play well, better than today, away at Huddersfield.
"We can only do our job. If we hadn't done our job today and seen the results in the league, we would have really regretted it."