David Moyes insists that Sunderland’s trip to New York is about building a better team spirit for the long-term good of the club.
The Black Cats boss opted against a more traditional warm winter training camp in favour of a city break, in the hope that time together can forge a bond among the players ahead of a crucial few months for the club’s future.
Sunderland’s players flew out on Monday and will take in a number of tourist attractions, including live basketball.
Some are also expected to pay a visit to Ground Zero.
The 4-0 defeat to Southampton last Saturday has left fans divided on the trip; Sam Allardyce cancelling his Crystal Palace player’s training camp in Dubai after their 4-0 defeat to Sunderland.
Many Black Cats, however, have pointed to a need to mix things up and Moyes is confident that is the right thing to do.
He has experience of the trip, enjoying success with a similar venture at Everton.
He said: “I’ve done it before and I know how it works. We’ll train every day, we’ll run we’ll cycle, we’ll keep the players on it.
“But sometimes going to a training camp can just be more of the same. I want us to build a real good team spirit here, to have a togetherness on and off the field, to help us in this situation we’re in.”
Sunderland’s defeat last weekend was all the more frustrating considering the strides made in the 0-0 draw with Tottenham and the win at Selhurst Park, both of which were high-energy performances that suggested growing confidence and fight in the ranks.
Moyes has said on numerous occasions throughout the season that there is a direct correlation between his team’s physical output and their results.
Part of his long-term plan is to find more consistency on that front and a dressing room spirit and bond is essential to making that happen.
Moyes said: “Not just now but for the long-term, I think the players are showing it on the pitch, they’re fighting hard for each other, running hard as I mentioned.
“I think a few days together will do them no harm.”
The trip was backed at the weekend by Steven Pienaar, who is one of a number of players in the Sunderland squad to work with Moyes in the past.
The South African, a half-time substitute during the defeat to Southampton, said that team spirit will be crucial in the fight against the drop.
He said: “It’s very important to be with your colleagues off the field as well and get that bond.
“What you do off the field is very important to what you do on it. Hopefully it will benefit the group.
“The aim is to get everyone pulling in one direction. You need to get to know your players off the field but it’s really important at this stage. Obviously we want to be one unit and we’re here for one cause — to stay in the Premier League.”