Sam Allardyce says the moaners in the Sunderland dressing room have been silenced after such a feeble defeat at Manchester City.
Allardyce raised plenty of eyebrows with his team selection for Boxing Day’s defeat at the Etihad Stadium after making six changes to the Sunderland side, including first starts under his tenure for Vito Mannone and Danny Graham.
But Allardyce denied that he shuffled his pack to rest players for this week’s Stadium of Light clashes against Liverpool and Aston Villa, where Sunderland will hope to stand a better chance of adding to their meagre points tally.
Instead, Allardyce claimed he handed opportunities against City, so that those who have limited involvement under him could prove their worth – a chance which they spectacularly fluffed after Sunderland were swatted aside by the title challengers.
Allardyce said: “There are a lot of players moaning about how they should play, with the team not winning, asking ‘Why am I not playing?’.
“So now they’ve had the chance and they’ve done exactly the same as the others, haven’t they? They’ve not won either, so none of them can moan about not being in the team any more.
“I can moan more about them than they can moan about me, that’s for sure.
“Certainly, what we saw on Saturday for nine minutes was just ... I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“The goals that we conceded were just, for me, at this level of football ... I mean you can’t gift people with the quality that they’ve got.
“If we’d have made them work hard for the goals...
“You maybe don’t expect to win, but you certainly expect to put up a better performance than we showed.”
Allardyce reiterated that he believes there is a “fear factor” in the side, with confidence levels damaged by a run of four successive defeats.
The ex-West Ham boss believes that the only way he can banish it is by continuing to drill Sunderland’s players on the training ground.
“They look apprehensive, they’re not playing on the front foot and from a defensive point of view they’re standing off the opposition,” he added.
“We’re not too bad in possession, we’ve got some skilful players who can handle the ball.
“But when we’re out of possession we’ve got to shut the opposition down.
“If you allow the players at this level time and space they punish you, and denying time and space is what it’s all about when you haven’t got possession.
“I’ll keep working at it, keep going on the training ground and in the visuals room, and they get a bit bored with it, I know.
“But repetition’s very, very important for them to remember and try to picture when they’re out on the field what they should be doing to make sure that they stop the opposition, particularly out of possession.”