Belfast Telegraph

Weepy Advocaat silent over future

Dick Advocaat fought back tears as he paid an emotional tribute to everyone who helped Sunderland stay in the Barclays Premier League after securing a point at Arsenal, but will delay a decision on his own future until next week.

The Dutchman was in tears at the final whistle after the Black Cats battled to a 0-0 draw, which was enough to avoid a nervous final day of the season at champions Chelsea on Sunday with Hull and Newcastle now left to scrap it out for survival.

It is a remarkable achievement under the former Rangers boss, who presided over an upturn in form with 12 points from eight matches in charge to protect his record of never having been relegated.

"We have always said it was not about me, it was everybody involved, from the president to the people in the office and the team," said Advocaat, as he again welled up when speaking in the post-match press conference.

"The team believed in what we were trying to do from day one, but nobody believed we would do it here against a great team.

"I always told them to believe in their quality.

"To have done it on our own, this gives me a special feeling."

The former Dutch manager continued: "The emotions came when my friend Bert van Lingen (Sunderland assistant coach), we have done 25 years everything together, when he arrived on to the pitch and he started crying then. I did the same but he said 'let it go', and I said, 'okay, why not'."

The 67-year-old, though, would not confirm whether he had yet decided to stay on in Wearside.

Asked what it would take for him to remain in charge, Advocaat said: "I give an answer on that next week, sorry.

"If you don't mind, I will keep that (reasons) for myself. I have to think about everything.

"If I stop this will be the last job, and (if I continue) it will be this one."

What the future held for himself, Advocaat challenged the Mackems to build on their achievements.

He added: "This is the moment for Sunderland Football Club to do something also. You cannot buy eight players for £40million, so you have to try to get more quality into the squad and make the team stronger.

"We have to be very proud of our chairman and what he is doing but the quality was not always there. Now hopefully he can start on a new set-up, bringing more players of quality than he did in the past."

Despite Sunderland's resolute defending and threat on the counter attack, Arsenal had created enough chances to put the match beyond them.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was left frustrated following another night where his men dominated possession but could not convert their superiority, having now failed to score at the Emirates Stadium for a third successive match.

Arsenal, though, remain in third place, and with a three-point lead over Manchester United and superior goal difference are all but guaranteed automatic Champions League qualification.

"We dominated possession and we lacked a bit of sharpness in our movement, in the way we prepared our chances and in our finishing as well," said Wenger.

"Physically it was an intense game on Sunday (at Manchester United) from what we have analysed and we were a bit jaded tonight.

"We haven't scored in the last three games at home and the fact that we couldn't score played a big part in our spontaneous attitude when finishing."

Wenger added: "You have to expect your opponent to play well and you to be good enough to beat them despite that.

"Now we know that the point we took at Manchester United was vital. Had we lost that game then we would be in trouble.

"We are in a strong position now to finish in the top three.

"It's important to win on Sunday and give a good final game to our fans, after that we need to prepare for the FA Cup final."

Midfielder Jack Wilshere is expected to be in the England squad announced on Thursday, having made a first start since November.

Wenger, though, confirmed forward Danny Welbeck would be a doubt because of an ongoing knee problem.

"Welbeck has a test on Saturday or Sunday. We'll know more about it then," he said.


From Belfast Telegraph