Sebastian Coates has been ordered to show some aggression after the former Liverpool defender’s shaky start to the season.
Coates will get another chance in the Sunderland starting XI in tonight’s Capital One Cup third round clash against Manchester City, with fellow centre-half Younes Kaboul missing through suspension.
We saw against Bournemouth that he became better as the game went on, but what was he doing at the start?Dick Advocaat
Illness to captain John O’Shea, who will partner Coates tonight, had forced Dick Advocaat to turn to the Uruguayan at the 11th hour at Bournemouth last weekend, yet the £2million summer capture again struggled to convince.
Coates was inspirational during Sunderland’s escape from the drop at the end of last season, which persuaded the Black Cats to convert his loan deal into a permanent move from Liverpool.
But Advocaat believes Coates has been too timid this time around and has spoken with the 24-year-old.
Advocaat told the Echo: “Coates did really well in the last six games of last season.
“But I told him yesterday that he needs to be sharper.
“He is a little bit shy and that’s not possible.
“We saw against Bournemouth that he became better as the game went on, but what was he doing at the start?”
However, it was Coates’ central defensive partner Kaboul who was Sunderland’s chief culprit in the 2-0 defeat on the south coast after the French international was at fault for the opening goal and was then sent-off for a second yellow card.
Kaboul had been vastly-improved in the previous two games against Aston Villa and Spurs after he was clearly short on fitness at the start of the season.
But Advocaat believes that Kaboul’s fourth minute clanger, which allowed Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson the chance to turn and fire past Costel Pantilimon, affected the ex-Spurs man for the whole game.
Advocaat said: “Kaboul played so well against Spurs and then if you see the mistake he made for the goal, everybody knows what to do there – you can’t step in like that.
“He knows that, because he is such a positive guy.
“He was frustrated for the whole game. That’s the reason why he also got the second yellow card when he had no need to. What could the striker do there?”
Despite that defeat at Bournemouth - which sent Sunderland back to the bottom of the Premier League table - Advocaat cut an upbeat figure at his pre-match press conference about the Black Cats’ prospects this season.
“We have the quality to come through I have no doubts about that, it is just a matter of when,” he added.
“We have to play against a very good side tonight but we have to show something after Saturday’s game.”