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Moyes defends New York trip in wake of Southampton humiliation

David Moyes and his Sunderland players will jet across the Atlantic with their fledgling Premier League fightback having come to an abrupt halt.

The Black Cats boss hopes to foster a new team spirit during a four-day bonding trip to New York to set up his squad for a run-in which will determine where the club will play its football next season.

But, having seen optimism levels on Wearside increase markedly following last weekend's 4-0 victory at Crystal Palace, Moyes witnessed a horror show at the Stadium of Light on Saturday as EFL Cup finalists Southampton romped to victory by the same score.

Fans took to social media in the aftermath of a bleak afternoon to express disquiet over the mid-winter break, but Moyes insisted the defeat would not alter his focus for what he wants to achieve in the Big Apple.

He said: "No, I don't think so. We have got some time together. Look, a lot of teams who are out of the FA Cup are doing different things and we are doing something as well."

The Sunderland squad will take in basketball and ice hockey games, as well as visiting Ground Zero, during their time away, but Moyes will hope the exercise helps to further integrate new arrivals Joleon Lescott, Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo into the squad and foster a togetherness for the battles which lie ahead.

On Saturday, any sense of cohesion dissolved after a promising start from the moment the Saints took a 30th-minute lead in fortuitous circumstances.

Ryan Bertrand's inviting cross left defender Lamine Kone in terrible trouble as he attempted to get to the ball ahead of striker Manolo Gabbiadini, who ultimately turned it past goalkeeper Vito Mannone with his shoulder, although not in the view of referee Paul Tierney.

Moyes said: "It wasn't easy for the referee to see, but nevertheless it changed the flow of the game."

If the Scot could bemoan his side's fortune on that occasion, disappointment turned quickly to alarm as Gabbiadini sliced through his defence to make it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time.

Moyes withdrew John O'Shea, one of three central defenders, at the break and, in time, added Steven Pienaar, Fabio Borini and Wahbi Khazri to the mix, but to little effect and Jason Denayer's late own goal and a fourth from substitute Shane Long completed a miserable day.

He said: "Bits of it in the first half looked okay, but ultimately what you see is the result and the result was bad.

"But every time we put on a more attacking player, it got worse, so for us trying to win the game or do something, it didn't necessarily make us any better."

If Moyes left the Stadium of Light licking his wounds, opposite number Claude Puel did so a happy man as he looked ahead to his team's Wembley showdown with Manchester United on February 26.

Gabbiadini, who now has three goals in two games since his £14.6million arrival from Napoli, captured the headlines, but the contribution of Serbia international Dusan Tadic on his return to the side provided further cause for satisfaction on a day when the Saints won for just the second time in eight attempts in the league.

Puel said: "It was a good performance. I think it was his [Tadic's] best game since the beginning of the season. It's important he can repeat this performance, because all this gives quality to the squad.

"It was a fantastic game and good, of course, with all those games lost before, it was very important to react and to give a good answer. I hope it's the first game of a good cycle."

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