New signing Yann M’Vila says Sunderland have to be honest enough to admit their shortcomings if they are to emerge from crisis mode.
Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat was forced to hold an emergency team meeting with his squad on Sunday afternoon in the wake of the Black Cats’ dismal start to the season, which has seen them brushed aside by Leicester and then Norwich.
You need to raise your concerns because it’s easy to applaud and say everything is alright.
The discussion – which took place in the middle of the training pitch at the Academy of Light – was a constructive one, rather than necessarily heated, with both players and coaching staff airing their frank views.
But midfielder M’Vila believes it was a crucial step, rather than Sunderland kidding themselves that shipping seven goals against two sides expected to be around them in the bottom half of the fledgling Premier League table this season were merely freak results.
M’Vila told the Echo: “You can’t just say ‘it’s not bad, it’s not bad’.
“No, it is bad, so let’s get going and work hard for each other
“You need to raise your concerns because it’s easy to applaud and say everything is all right.
“It’s much harder to talk about things and what you did wrong.
“We had a very good meeting on Sunday, and the coach stressed that above all else, we need to be defensively solid before we attack.
“It was good to talk. I can understand what was being said, even if can’t speak the language yet.
“But you need to speak about the difficulties.”
M’Vila’s debut performance was one of the few crumbs of comfort for Advocaat against Norwich, even if the French international is short on match fitness, although he believes he is gradually getting close to 100 per cent.
As a newcomer, M’Vila has been able to make a relatively objective judgment on why Sunderland have been so poor in the opening two games.
The on-loan Rubin Kazan man doesn’t believe it is down to a lack of quality or confidence in the squad.
Instead, M’Vila thinks a lack of concentration and communication has seen Sunderland punished for a string of unforced errors.
He said: “For me, we made our own problems as a team. There were too many mistakes and that gave the other team the chance to score.
“Football is a game played in the head, above all.
“I think that if you are always strong in the head, then you’re going to lose fewer games.
“You must be constantly concentrating because at this level, it might be only one or two steps to get in a better position which makes the difference in defending a goal. That might be enough.
“If one of my team-mates goes forward, then what do I have to do?
“If you communicate and concentrate, then you prevent the goals or the mistakes.”
The manner of Sunderland’s opening two performances has prompted an understandable backlash from supporters, who made very public calls to chairman Ellis Short for further investment during the Norwich defeat.
Sunderland face an uphill battle to register their first points of the season when in-form Swansea visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday, but M’Vila knows Advocaat’s side have to alter the public mood.
The 25-year-old added: “They’ve seen us concede too many goals in the last two matches.
“We need to put in a performance for the supporters because they’re our family.”