Chris Coleman has a clear message to his patched-up Sunderland side – stick to the gameplan!
The Black Cats boss was left angry after the dismal 1-0 defeat to Barnsley on New Year’s Day, Sunderland failing to build on the victory over Nottingham Forest 48-hours earlier.
Coleman felt Sunderland reacted to Barnsley rather than attempting to dictate play and slipped to the foot of the Championship as a result.
Sunderland take a break from league action and head to Middlesbrough today (KO 1pm) in the third round of the FA Cup.
And Coleman has ordered his team to follow his gameplan if they are to enjoy a cup run.
“It’ll be a different challenge for us,” said Coleman ahead of the game with Tony Pulis’ Boro. “We’ll be up against a very organised team as Tony’s teams always are.
“What we mustn’t do is what we did against Barnsley, forget to implement our own gameplan, reacting to the opposition rather than our own plan.
“We did it against Forest but not against Barnsley. What’s the point in working on something if you don’t do it in a game? That’s what we’ve got to concentrate on, whether against Boro or anyone else, be a bit more pro-active.”
Coleman wants his side to offer more offensively, with Sunderland managing just three shots on target in their last two games.
“The one thing we said at half-time against Forest was don’t drop too deep and invite them onto us. Let’s keep playing and get up the pitch,” added Coleman.
“There’s always five minutes in a game where the opposition have it but that’s alright, you can defend in numbers for five minutes, but not for 20 or 30. We got away with that against Forest but we’ve got to offer more offensively.
“Who are we going to kick long balls to? When James Vaughan plays he can put himself about but there are plenty of defenders bigger than him. Sometimes you’ve got to do that, you get a chance to keep the ball and create something. We’ve got to go with a gameplan and stick with it.
“You can do it for five minutes at the end of the game [defend] but you can’t do it for 45 or 90, and you enjoy your football more playing that way.”