GUS POYET has stressed how Sunderland still need to strike a balance, despite a more attack-minded system to accommodate new signing Jermain Defoe.
The Sunderland boss deployed two orthodox frontmen for the first time this season in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Spurs and is likely to persist with that strategy for Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round clash against Fulham.
The arrival of England striker Defoe largely forced Poyet’s hand, with the 32-year-old more comfortable in a strike partnership, yet Sunderland also needed to offer more of a threat after a paltry one meaningful effort on target in their previous outing against Liverpool.
But Poyet says Sunderland cannot suddenly go gung-ho at the expense of their defensive solidity, which had seen the Black Cats beaten just four times before slumping to a further four losses in their last five league games.
“We just need to make sure we don’t lose it completely now and think we don’t need to run any more, without any shape, just get it forward and Jermain will score four. No,” said Poyet.
“That’s why we need to find the right balance, but it will slowly come.
“It’s not like we were playing to defend before. That’s a lie.
“I remember against Swansea, we controlled the game completely, had four or five chances, but didn’t score.
“It was the same at Leicester away, the second half at QPR.
“People can think because we are difficult to beat, we never attack.
“There have been games when we didn’t attack, I realise that.
“But even against Chelsea in the last 10 or 20 minutes, we had two or three chances.
“If they had gone to Jermain, I would say he’d probably have put them in the net.”
It is that last point which prompted Poyet to bring Defoe to the Stadium of Light as part of a swap deal with Jozy Altidore last week.
Poyet has the utmost confidence that Defoe will prove to be a match-winner for Sunderland and help the Black Cats edge away from the relegation zone, with just a point currently separating them from the bottom three.
“I think there’s plenty of things we’ve been doing alright, to be honest,” added Poyet.
“But you need a player who can make the difference if you are organised and difficult to beat.
“It’s not like ‘we’ll see’. No, he will (score goals) because that’s his quality.
“That’s what he does every day.”
Meanwhile, tickets are on sale for Saturday’s home FA Cup tie against Championship club Fulham, priced £15 for adults and £5 (under-16s and over-65s) in all areas of the Stadium of Light.
Cash turnstiles will also operate on matchday.