Angry Advocaat demands response
Dick Advocaat has warned his Sunderland players they are in trouble if they cannot summon up the aggression to avoid another Barclays Premier League survival fight.
The Dutchman admitted his shock at the Black Cats' capitulation at Leicester on the opening day of the season last Saturday, when they conceded three times inside 14 first-half minutes to surrender any chance of a positive result.
Video analysis during the week made for painful viewing for the 67-year-old and his squad, but Advocaat was pulling no punches ahead of Saturday's home clash with promoted Norwich.
Asked if he had been shocked by the performance at the King Power Stadium, he said: "Yes, I was.
"In pre-season, we did not see a lot of good games - winning, losing, losing, winning, but not with convincing football.
"The last game against Hannover was a little bit better, more organisation, but there is no excuse for the way we played (against Leicester).
"If we think we can play that way, then we have no chance at all.
"If this team, this squad doesn't work and there is no aggression in the team to get the ball and to do something more, then we will find it very difficult.
"But we have discussed that and tomorrow they have to show me what they can do."
Advocaat was equally unequivocal at the end of last season when asked what was needed to avoid the need for a repeat of his last-gasp rescue mission, recommending an influx of quality rather than quantity in the summer transfer market.
Holland international midfielder Jeremain Lens certainly fits the bill in that respect, while Adam Matthews and Yann M'Vila, who joins the senior squad for the first time this weekend, have also been added to the mix.
However, the club is desperate to boost its attacking options and Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj and former loan signing Fabio Borini are among a series of options currently under consideration.
Advocaat, however, refused to shed any light on the search for new recruits, saying only: "We have still 14 days to go and there is no reason now to discuss a lot of things. Let's wait the next 14 days and then we have the facts."
The head coach saw his resources depleted further this week by the loss of midfielder Adam Johnson to a shoulder injury, but a scan has revealed no lasting damage.
Advocaat said: "It was not as bad as we expected, but he will be out for at least six, seven weeks. At first they said at least eight, but if he needed an operation... But that is not the case.
"That is better than we expected."
If Johnson certainly will not be involved against the Canaries, central defender John O'Shea will hope he is after being named only among the substitutes last weekend, although Advocaat is adamant he will pick his team based on a vision for the future and not on the past.
He said: "It is not relevant, what he [O'Shea] has done. Yesterday is yesterday, today is today and we have to think in the future, not in the past.
"His career - the same with Wes Brown - has been only good things, but at a certain moment, I have to make decisions. That's the reason that I'm the manager.
"It's not nice for him, but that's the way it goes. But he gave the right answer when I told him that he was not in: 'We have a long season', and that's true."