Jermain Defoe believes David Moyes’ new signings have lifted the spirit in the Sunderland camp, and he hailed the defensive endeavours of his team-mates in the last two games.
The 34-year-old was again the hero at Crystal Palace as his brace sealed a memorable 4-0 win, but he was quick to celebrate the clean sheets from that game and the 0-0 draw with Spurs last midweek.
The solid defensive shows gave Sunderland the platform to land four crucial points in the fight against relegation.
Sunderland came under heavy pressure in the opening half hour at Palace, and again in the final 10 minutes.
Vito Mannone made a number of saves, while Jason Denayer preserved the clean sheet with a superb goal-line clearance.
Joleon Lescott also made an impressive debut from the bench and Defoe hailed his old friend, saying that he is one of the best professionals in the business.
He said: “Maybe the signings that have come in, players that the manager knows from before, lift everyone else.
“It’s a funny one, you bring competition into the club, and (for) the players that are here, you want to impress the new players.
“It’s something that we wanted – the team spirit is always the most important thing.
“In tough times, you’ve got to stick together. If you stick together as a group, it doesn’t really matter what’s going on – you win together, you lose together.
“I don’t understand it [the commitment]. I’m not a defender!
“But, yeah, I remember Vito’s double save, Lescott come on. It’s brilliant bringing someone like that, with his experience, into the football club.
“I’ve known Joleon since I was young, and there’s a lot of things that people don’t see (what he offers). He’ll go into the gym 45 minutes before training – I’ve not seen that from too many players before in my career. Unbelievable professional.
“Gibbo [Darron Gibson] has come in, not a lad I’ve played with before, but he has that experience.
“It’s been good, we just have to keep going.
“There’s no point taking our foot off the gas. With the other teams around us winning games, we need to keep winning.”
Defoe also hailed the finishing of Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong, who settled the contest with two fine first-half strikes.
The striker has 14 Premier League goals this season but said he’d have been proud to have either goal in his back catalogue.
He said: “It [the first half] was difficult because, especially in the Premier League, the intensity of the first 10-15 minutes.
“The lads were a little bit tense because you don’t want to concede, you know how difficult it can be.
“You always want to get that first goal. Credit to Lamine because, if you look at that finish, it’s a striker’s finish.
“Didier’s goal, that’s a great goal. Yeah, yeah [I’d have been proud of that myself].”