Sunderland’s spirit and togetherness is the big difference

Lee Cattermole.
Lee Cattermole.
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GUS POYET believes a greater harmony among Sunderland’s ranks has been key to the dramatic upturn in their fortunes.

Sunderland head into tonight’s visit of West Brom on the back of a return of 10 points from their last four games - a haul which has taken them to the brink of Premier League survival.

The Black Cats had taken just one point from eight games prior to their draw at Manchester City last month and looked to be plummeting towards the Championship.

But Poyet senses that a spirit of team-work has clicked in Sunderland’s ranks, with players grasping the intricacies of his possession-based philosophy.

“The team was there at Man United on Saturday and it’s important for me to say that,” he said.

“It’s not about one player being the hero who makes five saves, seven blocks or five goals.

“It’s about the group doing the right things all the time.

“I think there is an understanding. We’ve got that on the pitch.

“There were two or three times in the first half at Man United when Lee Cattermole went to press high and people covered him at the right time.

“Little things like that, show they’ve got it from playing together.

“And the more you do it, the more natural it becomes.

“Normally, at the beginning of a new coaching system, after an hour, they go back to basics and what they’ve done all their lives.

“But the more you do it in training, it comes naturally.”

Sunderland’s efforts at Old Trafford in Saturday’s 1-0 win took their toll, with Seb Larsson and Connor Wickham both coming off with knocks during the second half.

But Poyet has a clean bill of health for tonight’s encounter and is expected to name an unchanged line-up for the fifth successive game.

“They finished the game at Man United very tired, five or six of them in particular,” added the Uruguayan.

“But they recovered well after having Sunday off and have trained without problems.”