Defender reveals how Alex Neil's tactical messages have helped him at Sunderland following Stoke switch

Danny Batth says Alex Neil’s tactical nous has been one of the head coach’s biggest strengths since joining Sunderland.

The Black Cats have lost just two of their 23 league games since Neil took charge at the Stadium of Light in February, including play-off matches, while the team have made an encouraging start following promotion to the Championship.

Batth moved to Sunderland shortly before Neil’s arrival, signing an 18-month contract on Wearside following his transfer from Stoke.

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The central defender, who has racked up over 250 Championship appearances playing for Stoke, Wolves and Middlesbrough, has started all five league games for Sunderland this season and has highlighted the squad’s togetherness following a strong start.

Danny Batth playing for Sunderland against Stoke. Picture by FRANK REID

“I don’t think you can underestimate the work the manager has done, it’s been a massive part of it,” Batth told the Echo when asked about Sunderland’s start to the season.

“You see that week in, week out. We always have a plan, we know our jobs and responsibilities and also we have good players as well.

“Keeping as many of those as fit as possible and topped up, and having the lads who aren’t playing ready will be important”

“I’ve loved every minute of it and I’ve got to keep doing well, keep performing and I’m really enjoying it."

When asked about Neil’s biggest strengths, Batth replied: “Probably just his nous and his enthusiasm. Tactically I find he has real good messages and has helped me, helped the rest of the team.

“It’s too early to be reflecting really but so far so good.”

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At 31, Batth is seen as one of the senior figures and leaders in Sunderland’s dressing room, yet the centre-back says he’s primarily focusing on his own performances.

“There is good competition at the back and I have to make sure that I’m at the top of my game and then that has an influence on other players," Batth added.

“The way that I try and communicate and organise from the back, I think that will help the younger players.

“There is promise there and there is good spirit and togetherness. We want to do as well as we can this season and win as many games as we can.”

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