John O’Shea says Sunderland’s defeat to Sheffield United was about a failure to apply the basics, rather than any mistakes with the set-up of the side.
O’Shea was a half-time substitute after Lamine Kone picked up a groin injury in the first half, taking his place at the centre of an unfamiliar back five system that made the Black Cats look disjointed.
“There’s second balls, there’s picking up possession again, there’s wanting to get on it, so many things, it is too easy without a doubt to blame it on systems,” he said.
“That’s what I mean when I say about a collective responsibility, that whatever team is picked, whatever system, you’re doing the right things, looking for the ball, getting on the ball, defending properly, all of those things. We have to combine those things.”
Sunderland fans vented their frustration after Clayton Donaldson scored his second goal, chanting ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ as the Black Cats struggled to get back into the game.
O’Shea admits it is a test of character for his side to win them back, starting on Tuesday night against Nottingham Forest.
“The frustration is there and you only turn that around by winning football matches. You have stand up and be counted, keep showing for the ball, keep looking to play and do the right things and eventually you’ll get that thing breaking for you. If you do those things properly the fans will back you, I’ve seen that over these years,” he said.
“We’ve spoken about that, making sure we do it as staff, players, we’ll dust ourselves down and make sure we’re ready for Tuesday night.”
The Sunderland captain is hopeful that the team can get stronger as the deadlien day signings begin to make their mark in the coming weeks, with both Callum McManaman and Jonny Williams showing some positive attacking signs on their competitive debuts.
He said: “We had new additions into the team, players coming back, the amount of time we’ve had to work on different systems and combinations of players. That will get stronger and stronger as the games go on and the fitness improves of the lads who have arrived as well. Its a work in progress but we all know we have to make the sure the results come quickly.”