Sunderland right-back Donald Love says new manager Chris Coleman has brought togetherness and belief to the club ahead of the trip to Sheffield United today.
An injury to Bryan Oviedo has given the youngster an unexpected opportunity at wing-back and the 23-year-old has been steadily improving.
Oviedo’s return will offer stiff competition for defensive places, but Love is thrilled by the belief and tactical clarity at the club.
He said: “I think the last manager didn’t really have a style of play, he was a lot more hit the corners, but this one knows how he wants to play.
“We’re all buying into it and it’s coming together already, as you can see from the results and the performances.
“Everyone wants to be involved, everyone’s fighting for each other. There’s healthy competition, but everyone’s fighting for each other.
“It’s healthy competition and even if I didn’t play (at Bramall Lane) I wouldn’t be bothered, I’d still want the team to go out and win the game and Bryan to play well if he played.
“It’s nice when a manager’s got faith in you and you want to fight for him. He’s done that with a lot of the lads here and even the ones who aren’t playing, you can tell they want to play and they’re disappointed when they don’t.”
The Black Cats have improved significantly under Coleman, particularly in defence, and Love believes the new system is bearing fruit.
In particular, the youngster had high praise for the centre-forwards making an impact.
He said: “I think the strikers have done unbelievably, Vaughany and Grabbs and Joel and Maja, because they’ve got a lot of work and a lot of running to do to occupy the full-backs.
“Hopefully I can run into the space they create.
“I’ve played there a few times at Man United, but that was just in the reserves. Hopefully I can just play in every game now.
“We work on it in training, so everyone knows their roles and what we need to do on matchday.
“That’s three clean sheets in the last five games. We were conceding for fun at the start of the season under the last manager, but this one has got everyone knowing their jobs and when matchday comes we’ve got to perform.”
Love admitted the young side that finished Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham ‘rushed’ their play in search of the win, but he says it is a game they may well have lost before Coleman’s arrival.
He said: “I think we just rushed it when we were up against 10 men against Birmingham.
“The fans wanted us to get it forward and we should have just slowed it down and looked for the right pass but that comes with experience.
“The older lads, like Sheasy (John O’Shea), were telling us to take our time, but we just wanted to get the win.
“I think, last week, Fulham had a lot of the ball and we knew Joel and Maja had a lot of space to run into with their pace.
“This week we could have used their pace in a different way, but we didn’t really do it.
“I think, earlier in the season, we would have lost that game, but that’s the confidence the manager has brought, the team spirit and the togetherness.
“You can tell everyone’s fighting for each other and for the fans.
“That’s why it’s so frustrating when we can’t get the win. We went home gutted on Saturday, like the fans did.”