Jeremain Lens was keeping track of Dick Advocaat’s transformation of Sunderland before the Black Cats even began their summer pursuit of the Dutch international.
New signing Lens will make his Sunderland competitive debut in this weekend’s opening day clash at Leicester City after becoming the club’s big-money summer signing following an £8million move from Dynamo Kiev.
I watched the derby and from that moment I could see that Sunderland was a good clubJeremain Lens
After working with Sunderland head coach Advocaat previously at PSV Eindhoven and AZ Alkmaar, Lens had taken a keen interest in the former Holland manager’s work at the Stadium of Light after leading the Black Cats to Premier League survival last season.
And after being reunited with Advocaat on Wearside, the winger believes the 67-year-old can steer Sunderland to more tranquil waters this season.
“From the moment that Dick Advocaat came here for the last nine games, I followed the club because I had a good relationship with the coach,” said Lens after being introduced to the press today.
“I saw that the fans are great and the atmosphere was super.
“I watched the derby as well, and from that moment I could see that Sunderland were a good club.
“Everyone knows it is not a club that are not competing to be champions, and the last few seasons have not been good, but I hope we will perform better this season.
“I think he (Advocaat) did a good job last season and now he can work for a full season.
“I have a good feeling, and I am confident we can achieve a good ranking in this league.”
Lens made a positive impression during Sunderland’s pre-season programme, despite only featuring in the last two friendlies against Doncaster and Hannover 96.
And he will have no problems acclimatising to one of the wide slots in Advocaat’s 4-3-3 system after previously playing in a similar role under the Sunderland boss.
“I saw in the last two friendlies the way that he (Advocaat) wants to play, and how he wants me to play,” added Lens.
“I like the way he wants to play and I think I can improve my qualities and show everybody that I can play in the Premier League.
“My stats show I tend to make a lot of assists and create a lot of chances.
“Sometimes you need to understand that if a player is in a better position then you play him in.
“For me, it doesn’t matter who scores if it means we win the game.
“But of course, I can score goals myself too and the manager expects the midfielders to do that.
“It’s a difficult game away from home against Leicester on Saturday, who will be one of the teams around us in the rankings.
“But we need to win those games and make a good start.”