During Bournemouth’s ascent to the Premier League, Sunderland assistant Zeljko Petrovic went on a fact-finding mission to see the Cherries.
Petrovic was impressed.
Hopefully the players realise that if we lose at Bournemouth, we’ll be five points behind them and that is not a good ideaDick Advocaat
He saw a Championship side playing beyond the sum of its parts and with an intent to consistently go for the jugular, rather than adopting a cagey, risk-free approach.
There will be no under-estimating the threat posed by Sunderland’s opponents tomorrow.
Equally, while Advocaat has never visited Bournemouth and knows little of their history, he appreciates the romantic aspect to the club after reaching the Premier League on crowds of just 10,000 or so.
But ahead of Sunderland’s first league clash at Dean Court since 1990, Advocaat is not getting misty-eyed.
He simply wants a first Premier League victory of the campaign under his belt – a result which would see the Black Cats leapfrog Eddie Howe’s Cherries in the fledgling table.
“Bournemouth’s fairytale can go on, but not tomorrow,” said Advocaat.
“It’s our fairytale that must start tomorrow.
“Hopefully the players realise that if we lose at Bournemouth, we’ll be five points behind them and that is not a good idea.
“We need a result there, there is no doubt about that.”
On paper, Sunderland have the quality to emerge victorious against the Premier League new boys, who have been dealt the hammer blow of long-term injuries to big-money summer captures Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings.
But Advocaat realises that Bournemouth can point to a greater cohesion than Sunderland, with the vast majority of the side composed of those who helped them earn promotion.
By contrast, new-look Sunderland have only had a few weeks working in Advocaat’s favoured set-up after four of the eight summer signings only arrived at the Stadium of Light last month.
“The Bournemouth players have played together for a couple of years and there haven’t been a lot of changes there, so they started at the beginning of July,” said Advocaat.
“When did we start? That’s the big difference.
“But they’re a really good team, they fight for each other and everyone knows what to do.
“We are just at the beginning of that.”
Advocaat has been heartened by the positives in the defeat against Spurs last weekend though after Sunderland arguably merited at least a share of the spoils.
He wants to see more that hunger to secure a winning feeling after it proved to be a characteristic of Sunderland’s successful escape from the drop last season.
“This is the sixth game and if you go to Bournemouth and are well organised, we have the quality to do something,” added Advocaat.
“But if we go there and think it’s going to be easy, then we have no chance.
“That’s the thing we need from last season. We have to go into every game realising we need to fight really hard.
“We saw some of that against Spurs and also even against Swansea.”