Sunderland have to rediscover qualities from last season’s survival fight against Norwich

Sebastian Coates struggles against Leicester's Jamie Vardy last week
Sebastian Coates struggles against Leicester's Jamie Vardy last week
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Dick Advocaat could easily have spent all week giving a tutorial to his players on everything they did wrong at Leicester City on the opening day of the season.

Let’s face it, there was more than enough material.

I told them again on Wednesday that we have to be totally different

Dick Advocaat

Sunderland’s players were indeed given a video nasty on Wednesday afternoon, yet it only lasted 10 minutes or so and focused on the key points of the 4-2 defeat at the King Power Stadium, rather than nit-picking each of the many mistakes.

Advocaat has been equally keen to focus on what Sunderland can do well, rather than what they do badly.

Prior to the Leicester game, Sunderland’s players were shown clips of how they managed to avoid the drop during Advocaat’s nine game tenure in the Spring, when aggression, work-rate and dogged determination saw the Black Cats avoid falling into the Championship (again).

They went through a re-run of that footage this week, with Advocaat keen to rediscover those traits in their opening home game against Norwich City today, rather than that fight only being apparent when there is no room left to manoeuvre at the end of the season.

“It wasn’t just a few things that went wrong at Leicester, it was many things,” said Advocaat.

“Before the game, I made a DVD a couple of minutes long and showed it to them, and it showed how we played in the last nine games last season and how we got the points.

“Not many things have changed because it’s almost the same squad. We don’t have big stars.

“So if we do the same things, we will always get points. You have to show work, aggression, organisation etc.

“But all of those things, I did not see (at Leicester).

“I told them again on Wednesday that we have to be totally different because if you don’t bring what you have to bring, alongside your individual qualities, then we have no chance.

“And against Norwich, they have to give the answer on that.”

The manner of Sunderland’s performance at Leicester, not just the result, has put the spotlight on today’s opening home encounter, where the Black Cats will be backed by a crowd of more than 41,000.

Yet Advocaat feels that Sunderland’s form at the Stadium of Light throughout the whole season will be decisive in how the Black Cats fare.

“Every home game is a must-win game because it makes it easier and we have to beat the teams around us, like Norwich,” he added.