John O’Shea believes the return of Dick Advocaat has made Sunderland’s pre-season campaign a slicker operation.
Advocaat’s men are enjoying a well-deserved weekend of rest after a gruelling 12-day stint in North America in the build-up to the new Premier League campaign, which gets underway two weeks today.
It was key I think that Dick stayed.
The former Rangers boss is the fifth different manager in five years to take charge of Sunderland during a pre-season campaign.
But after Advocaat’s U-turn over extending his Sunderland tenure, the Black Cats have at least avoided yet another man at the helm, who has to assess the squad from scratch again.
Skipper O’Shea believes that has benefited Sunderland as they get ready for the upcoming season, with Advocaat well aware of the squad’s strengths and weaknesses.
O’Shea told the Echo: “It was great news that Dick was going to stay on, which gave it a bit of an extra buzz.
“And then with the new signings as well, you want to get back.
“It was key I think that Dick stayed.
“That’s credit to Lee (Congerton, sporting director) and the owner who’ve done fantastic business there.
“Hopefully he does his talking on the pitch now and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Sunderland struggled to impress during their three friendlies in North America, with Advocaat’s men looking leggy, albeit they ended their pre-season tour with victory over MLS outfit Toronto.
But O’Shea believes it would be more concerning if Sunderland were fresh in pre-season, due to the graft which inevitably needs to be put in on the training ground.
“With the work we’ve been putting in on the training ground, you don’t go into the games fresh, you go into them very tired,” added the 34-year-old.
“That’s what we know pre-season is about. You’re putting your work in, in the build-up to a couple of weeks away when we’ve got Leicester.
“The break this year was a little bit shorter due to the internationals, but you still enjoy it.
“You have a few weeks off and you’re itching to get back in for pre-season and meet up with the lads again.
“The facilities were first class out in America and it was a boost when all the rest of the lads came over to Canada with us.
“Obviously training then becomes that bit better with the tempo and the competition which we’ve been looking for and what we’ve needed.”