Phil Parkinson outlines importance of clean sheets and praises key Sunderland duo for 'immense' display
Phil Parkinson believes the first league clean sheet of the season will hand his Sunderland players a huge psychological boost.
The Black Cats secured the League One shut-out at the thirteenth attempt, Sunderland comprehensively beating Tranmere Rovers 5-0 at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland, 3-0 up at half-time, dominated proceedings and Parkinson was celebrating the first clean sheet as much as the clinical display of his forward players.
Parkinson said: “Ultimately, if you are going to get to the top of the league you have to keep clean sheets.
“Our concentration levels were good and we kept urging the lads on from the touchline because we knew psychologically it was important to get that.
“I felt we did that, and most importantly we kept our discipline and made sure got a clean sheet because as everybody knows we had not had a clean sheet all season and psychologically that was as crucial for us as the goals going in at the other end.”
Parkinson was also quick to highlight the contribution of his central midfield pairing, skipper Max Power and George Dobson, who was recalled to the starting line-up.
The pair produced a tenacious, controlled and disciplined performance, constantly closing down Tranmere attacks while looking to get Sunderland moving the other way.
On the duo, Parkinson said: “I thought they were immense.
“We have been speaking about football not being about ‘you attack, we attack’ - it is we attack, can we lock the next attack in.
“Having the athleticism of those two in the middle of the pitch I thought they did that really well, we don’t want it to be like a basketball game were you attack and then end up defending round our box.
“You have to have that ability to lock those attacks in and build periods of pressure.”
Sunderland have little time to rest, the Black Cats travelling to Shrewsbury Town on Saturday aiming to build on the victory at the Stadium of Light.
Parkinson's side moved up to seventh in the league on the back of the victory over Tranmere.