Man of the moment Jermain Defoe is confident that Sunderland can put their history of shaky starts behind them.
The trend of failing to muster three points on the opening day may go on for another season but Sunderland can be buoyed by their performance in their 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.
Sunderland haven’t won on the opening day since the 2010/2011 season but Defoe is confident they can turn things around quickly, starting with Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Of Sunderland’s performance the hitman said: “The manager was happy with the effort we put in, getting tight and stopping them from playing. It is a difficult place to come.”
The striker heaped praise on the debutants describing them as “brilliant”.
Though Defoe was understandably disappointed to leave the Etihad empty-handed: “Towards the end, I thought we’d got the point, maybe we deserved it, but they got a late goal.”
He is keen to move on from the defeat quickly and looks to hit the ground running, “We move on – it is only the first game of the season. More performances like that and we will pick up all our points at the start of the season.
The forward added, “If you look at the way we finished, we want to try and continue that if we can.”
The Moyes impact
Despite fielding what was arguably a weak team against City, Sunderland looked under good shape under David Moyes and that is something Defoe noticed: “A new manager has come in, some things take time, but training has been very good.”
The striker continued, “A lot of possession and shape work, so the players know what to do without the ball and, when you have the right shape, it is less running for the team.
Defoe feels that the team need to attack when the chance presents itself, “When we get the ball back, it is important we go forward with pace and try and create chances."
He also cited the ruthlessness required to make the most of those opportunities, "The forward lads then have to make it count, especially at this level.”
Making history for himself
Defoe of course always makes it count and if Sunderland are to get points on the board quickly, he will be crucial to that. The goal scorer paved his way into the top ten Premier League scorers of all time and will look to move further and further up that table with each game.
Though despite his goal, he was disappointed not to get more: “I had the chance in the first half, but, in games like this when you won’t see much of the ball, it is important to stay focused and wait.”
The striker is adamant he will remain optimistic though, an attitude that will surely do wonders for the Wearsiders after a turbulent summer: “There were so many positives to take from the game, though. We worked on a lot of shape in training and the manager is good on that.
He continued, “They [City] didn’t create too many chances. At times, you don’t even know what formation they are playing – they pop up in different holes."
Defoe stressed the need for patience, something that paid off on Saturday: “You have to wait, stay focused and not get frustrated. When a chance came, I knew I had to score and after that you want to try and see the game out.
He concluded, “They then pushed forward in numbers. Even after that, our lads looked really fit and tried to get forward. “If we continue like that, we’ll be fine.”