DICK ADVOCAAT insists his lack of any Premier League experience is no barrier towards keeping Sunderland in the top flight.
During a 35-year coaching career, Advocaat has won league championships, the UEFA Cup and guided Holland to both the World Cup quarter-finals and European Championship semi-finals, during two separate spells in charge of his country.
I have worked at a lot of levels but more or less the top levelDick Advocaat
But the 67-year-old will make his debut as a Premier League manager at West Ham United today (5.30pm kick-off), as he begins his nine-game spell in charge of Sunderland, tasked with keeping the club in the top division.
That absence of exposure to the English game has been a talking point since Advocaat was appointed as Gus Poyet’s successor, yet it is a concern that the ex-Rangers boss has immediately brushed off.
He told the Echo: “It’s no problem that I have not worked in the Premier League before.
“I have worked with national teams at the highest level – World Cups, European Championships.
“I have worked at a lot of levels, but more or less the top level.
“So I know what I can expect.
“It was nice to get that phone call on Monday, to be honest. I want to do this job and I have got a good feeling about it.
“We have trained, talked, watched videos, discussed today’s game – that kind of thing.
“I know a lot about my own players.”
Advocaat believes his Sunderland bow at Upton Park today will provide the insight he needs into stewarding the Black Cats over the season’s finale.
But his main message to the squad this week has been to stress that they are Premier League players for a reason and he wants to see them enjoy far more of the ball than has been the case over recent games.
“Today’s game will give me the tools that I need for the following eight games,” he added. “I have told the players to show that they are good players, and why they are playing for Sunderland.
“But you can’t do that on your own – you have to do it as a team.
“I haven’t noticed a problem with confidence in training this week.
“They have worked hard and worked well.
“As a coach, I like to control the game.
“I like to have the ball.
“But the majority of the games I have seen for Sunderland, the opponents have had the ball.
“That’s not good.”