Advocaat: The time is now
Published 10/04/2015 | 16:36
Dick Advocaat has ordered Sunderland to forget their derby victory over Newcastle and concentrate on securing Barclays Premier League survival before they need shock wins to do it.
The 67-year-old head coach guided the Black Cats to the first success of his reign and their fifth on the trot over their arch-rivals on Sunday to ease them three points clear of the drop zone.
Wearside has been in celebratory mood since, but having warned his players in the immediate aftermath of the game that it was only a start, he has now challenged them to fend off the spectre of relegation long before they head for Arsenal and Chelsea in their final two fixtures.
Advocaat said: "We have to not think about Newcastle any more - I have told them that - because we have in principle five games in which we have to do it.
"We still have a chance in the last two away games, but in principle, we have to do it in the first five games, so the most important game is now tomorrow."
The Dutchman's pragmatism is perhaps well-founded - Sunderland's derby success has proved short-lived in recent seasons with their previous three victories in the fixture having been followed by defeat, on each occasion by Hull, with two of their reverses coming at the Stadium of Light.
He said: "I don't want to talk about that. I heard that story last week as well, but what can we do about that? We have to forget that, just concentrate on the game and get a result."
The Black Cats turned in arguably their best performance of the season to date to see off the Magpies, with Jermain Defoe's blistering lone strike scant reward for a hugely committed display.
Asked if he was surprised at their lowly position having seen what they could do, Advocaat, who once again fended off speculation that he could extend his stay beyond the end of the campaign, said: "There are many, many good teams in this league.
"Surprised? What I have seen is if everybody works hard - you cannot do it all on your own - if they work as a unit, not just 11 players, but the whole squad, if they realise that they cannot do it on their own. We have to do it as a unit and as a team, then we can become successful.
"Hopefully we still have enough time to achieve that."
This time around, it will be in-form Crystal Palace threatening to upset the home fans as manager Alan Pardew looks for a fourth consecutive league victory and his eighth in the 12th game since he left Newcastle for Selhurst Park.
His opposite number this weekend revealed he has kept a close eye on the Londoner, who presided over his former club's previous four derby defeats, since a chance meeting in Spain some time ago.
Advocaat said: "He started in January, so he had the time to do so. Pardew is an excellent coach - I met him once in Spain when he was the manager of Charlton. He probably doesn't know, but I still remember that.
"They were there at the training centre in Marbella and we talked with each other. He's a nice man, I like him and then from that moment, I started following him.
"He did a great job, in my opinion, at Newcastle, and what he is doing now is unbelievable."
Advocaat will be without Sebastian Larsson, who is suspended for two games after collecting his 10th booking of the season on Sunday, but fellow midfielder Jack Rodwell is available after shaking off a hamstring problem.