Sebastian Larsson: Sunderland need to kick on from back-to-back wins
Published 29/11/2015 | 11:16
Sebastian Larsson is refusing to take anything for granted after helping to drag Sunderland out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.
The 30-year-old Sweden international played his part in Saturday's 2-0 victory over Stoke, which came just five days after a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace and helped ease the club up to 17th place in the table.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce was quick to insist after the final whistle that the job is far from done and that view is shared inside the dressing room.
Larsson, a veteran of the Black Cats' increasingly miraculous escapes in each of the last three seasons, said: "That's what it's like down there. Unfortunately, we know it all too well.
"But two wins is massive and of course it pushes you up and it sort of sends the message that you are the team on the way up, and we need to capitalise on that and keep going because we know how quickly it can change.
"We are not going to get ahead of ourselves by any means, but we knew these two wins were massive."
Sunderland have now taken nine points from the 18 they have contested under Allardyce, with a new-found defensive resilience having laid the foundation from which to attack games.
That has come as no surprise with the 61-year-old having built his reputation as a manager on making his teams difficult to beat, and it has instilled a confidence in the players which was so notably absent before his arrival.
"I don't think the confidence is anywhere near as high as it can be, but obviously this week has really helped, there's no doubt about that," Larsson said.
"When you feel a bit more secure, you don't feel like you are giving chances away constantly and worrying about conceding a goal, that really helps and that's probably the one thing we have worked the most on.
"We are trying to get back to being a bit more solid and then trying to win the game, which we have managed to do, six points in six days, which is great for us."
The Black Cats had to remain patient on Saturday, even after Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross' 47th-minute dismissal for a second bookable offence.
They finally made the breakthrough eight minutes from time when full-back Patrick van Aanholt smashed home a rasping drive from Adam Johnson's intelligent free-kick, before substitute Duncan Watmore celebrated his new long-term contract with an equally sumptuous strike three minutes later.
Potters boss Mark Hughes was less than impressed with referee Mike Dean's performance in sending off Shawcross and then awarding the the free-kick from which Van Aanholt scored.
"The second goal is an irrelevance, really," Hughes said. "We are pushing for an equaliser and we get caught on the break again.
"But overall, we have played better, certainly, in recent weeks than we did today. We were very much in the game, but key moments, key details in games have gone against us today."