David Moyes has echoed Victor Anichebe’s call that Sunderland must ensure they keep their attacking play varied now that the target man is back in action.
The Nigerian spoke after the defeat to Manchester United and urged his team-mates to continue building from the back and using both flanks in attack.
Anichebe has played off the left wing since returning from injury, and warned he can be man marked too easily if the Black Cats direct all their attacking attentions on him.
Moyes echoed that sentiment as his side look to salvage their fading season.
He said: “I totally agree. But we’ve only had him back for a couple of games so we can’t have been that predictable because he hasn’t been there for three months!
“We’ve had to try and find other ways.
“The big thing is that we need our midfield players to be able to make good passes, and we need to be able to play out from the back a bit better.”
Anichebe’s return, alongside a superb display from the recalled Wahbi Khazri, helped Sunderland finally end a goal drought that had run for over 11 hours by the time the Tunisian scored direct from a corner.
That point against West Ham is unlikely to boost Sunderland’s survival prospects, but upcoming games against Middlesbrough and Bournemouth offer opportunities for a first win since the 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace in February.
Moyes insisted that commitment has not been a problem from his team.
He said: “For me there has been no question about the players’ commitment. I see them working hard, I see them trying to win tackles and challenges.
“What we’ve lacked, and what I think Victor was talking about, is the quality – getting the ball to feet at the right time, people making the right run.
“Those things are probably as important as the other bit.”
Anichebe also said that Steven Pienaar can help him return to his best form.
The South African is another to suffer from injury recently but is now back in first team contention.
Seb Larsson’s suspension could offer an opportunity in midfield and Moyes hopes the 35-year-old can make an impact.
He said: “Definitely. Steven links up well with Victor, he gives him the ball at the right time, he releases him at the right moment – all of which is important.
“Unfortunately, Victor and Steven have both been injured, but they are back now and I think when they combine together we will get more out of Victor.”