During Sam Allardyce’s playing days at Sunderland, training on the sunny sands of the Wearside Riviera was a routine occurrence.
It’s an altogether rarer sight these days. Sunderland’s squad participated in pre-season running along the coast-line during Gus Poyet’s reign, yet training is predominantly limited to the Academy of Light with the odd session at the Stadium of Light.
I used to go on the beach when I was here at Roker and I thought why haven’t we done that yet?SAM ALLARDYCE
Allardyce’s decision to hold training on Seaburn Beach earlier this week prompted a crowd of onlookers to immediately gather on the surrounding cliffs.
But with the Sunderland boss required to keep spirits up in a camp threatened by the very real prospect of relegation, Allardyce believes it was a welcome excursion.
“I used to go on the beach when I was here at Roker and I thought why haven’t we done that yet?” he said.
“Realistically, the weather has been that bad, but it’s been better this week and we had that change of environment.
“It surprised me how much the players enjoyed it, and of course, quite a lot of fans who stopped and watched us.
“A fresh environment, clean, fresh sea air was fantastic.”
There remains a sense of confidence in the Sunderland dressing room that the Black Cats can avoid the drop, yet the mood hasn’t been helped by four successive frustrating defeats.
The last three against Southampton, Newcastle and West Brom have all seen Sunderland squander golden chances for maximum points, and Allardyce admits the players were downbeat after last weekend’s stalemate against the Baggies.
Allardyce added: “I think the draws have created a real disappointment among the players, which will hopefully give them that bit of extra grit and determination to turn them into wins.
“They were in a real bad way after the West Brom game in terms of the disappointment.
“They took it heavily, knowing how comfortably they should have won the game and got the three points in the bag.
“But we have to maintain the performance and turn it into victories.
“I’m a bit sick of saying that, but hopefully we can do that against the top of the league team tomorrow.”