Sunderland manager David Moyes ready to ‘fight fires’ at the Stadium of Light

Didier Ndong: Impressive first start. Picture by FRANK REID
Didier Ndong: Impressive first start. Picture by FRANK REID
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Fighting fires is not usually in a manager’s remit.

However, David Moyes is honest enough to admit a few need putting out at Sunderland.

At the moment on the pitch is where all the focus will be, because we need results


Honesty could be Moyes’ middle name, evidenced by his post-match straight bat at Tottenham on Sunday.

Many a boss would have given the media a bit of flannel to explain away the last-minute withdrawal of Patrick van Aanholt, but not the 53-year-old.

He chose to say nothing rather than be less than truthful.

But the Scot is straight when assessing how he wants Sunderland to function as a club, but is frank enough to admit it is how the Black Cats perform on the field which matters the most.

So can Moyes attend to the two Fs – fires and football?

“Yeah I am, definitely, and I actually think a lot of them are not difficult to fix, not too big a process,” said Moyes who tonight takes his team to QPR in the EFL Cup. “Some of them will take a bit longer.

“But the real focus is the team, although so many of the things outside are part of preparing the team for where we want to be going.

“It’s not an excuse, it’s not because I’m trying to buy time. I’m not doing anything like that.

“Big Sam put a load of bushfires out while he was here.

“I’ve got a few more to do, and in time hopefully you’ll have a machine which works smoothly and we’ll get it in the best condition we possibly can to give us the best chance on the pitch.

“That’s what we want to do.

“But at the moment on the pitch is where all the focus will be, because we need results.”

The manager, back in the Premier League for the first time in over two years, is desperate to get things right – not just for David William Moyes, but for SAFC, for whom he clearly has the greatest of respect for.

“We’re having to put out a lot of bush fires in different places but I’m determined to get it right,” he said.

“I know what a good football club runs like and I know what it should look like on the football pitch.

“In truth, the only place it really matters, first and foremost, is the pitch, then we can try to build the other things together.”

A victory at Loftus Road tonight in an intriguing third-round tie would provide not only a first win for Moyes as the Black Cats boss, but give Sunderland an impetus for the Premier League campaign.

The former Everton, Man United and Real Sociedad boss was a late arrival at the Stadium of Light after Sam Allardyce was whisked away by the FA to become England’s head coach.

It means Moyes has been throwing things together more or less on the hoof.

So tonight, without the pressure of Premier League points on the line, he can concentrate on not just putting the players on the field but getting the best out of them.

Sunderland worked their socks off at Spurs but Moyes needs to translate resilience into results.

“It gives me the chance to give players some time,” Moyes said of the EFL Cup clash against the mid-table Sky Bet Championship outfit.

“I don’t feel as if we’ve had enough practice time so far, enough games, because we were bringing in players so late.

“For example, Didier Ndong played really well on Sunday but that was his first game.

“He’s had no real chance to play a game with the fellas.

“From that point of view, we’ve had a lot of that, we’ve had injuries to Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff [who are now back], Vito Mannone and Fabio Borini are out.

“The situation every week has been ‘how are we going to be?’ and ‘what can we put together?’ – that’s been challenging, it really has.

“I do think it’s had an affect on the start of the season and our results.

“I do believe there has been a little bit of progress in the games.

“It might not have been noticeable to the naked eye in a lot of the stuff.

“Hopefully the players are getting a little bit better generally.”