Wednesday 22 May 2019

Advocaat focused on the present

Dick Advocaat is concentrating on the job in hand
Dick Advocaat is concentrating on the job in hand

Dick Advocaat is refusing to contemplate an extended stay at Sunderland until he has completed his survival mission.

The 67-year-old Dutchman was parachuted in with nine games of the season remaining as the Black Cats rolled up their sleeves for a second successive battle to stay in the top flight.

Six games into his reign, head coach Advocaat has collected 10 of the 18 points on offer, but has still not managed to edge the club over the finishing line ahead of Saturday's home clash with in-form Leicester.

However, despite being installed as the bookmakers' favourite - West Ham's Sam Allardyce appears second in the list, although he is understood not to be a contender - to secure the job beyond the confines of his current contract, the former Holland boss will not even consider the matter until the battle is completed.

He said: "I think it's better to wait until after next weekend."

Gus Poyet's replacement would receive popular support if he were to indicate his continuing availability after dragging the club back from the brink with successive victories over Southampton and Everton after a derby win against Newcastle and a point at Stoke.

However, he modestly insists that even if the club does book a place in next season's Premier League, his contribution will only have been part of the equation.

He said: "If we stay up, then that's the success of the club, for everybody who works for the club, and we are part of that.

"I have to be very fair to the players, the way they train, the way they work during the games. We are very positive about that so in that way, I have no complaints at all about the players.

"Enjoyment is helped by winning games. That means the work you are doing is more enjoyable than when you lose.

"The last six games have been rather good, winning three games and one draw. We have only lost two. The performances and the results are okay, but we still have to do it, and that's the reason we are here."

Sunderland will have to turn in another good performance if they are to get any change out of Leicester with the Foxes having won six of their last seven games in a remarkable fightback.

Advocaat admits he did not know a great deal about the club or their manager Nigel Pearson before he arrived in England, but he knows a lot more about both now.

He said with a smile: "To be honest, if somebody said anything about Leicester, I always thought about Gary Lineker - honestly.

"But they have done really well, to be fair to the manager. Six out of seven, that's very positive. It's always a cooperation between players and management staff, and he's always calm - most of the time, he is calm.

"He looks very bright and he knows what he's doing, and if you win six out of seven, then you are doing a great job.

"But we will give them, tomorrow, a very difficult time."

Advocaat, however, will be without midfielder Jordi Gomez, whose two nerveless penalties secured a 2-1 victory over Southampton, after a niggling knee problem was diagnosed as a fractured patella which will sideline him for up to six weeks.

In addition, central defender Wes Brown is unlikely to play again this season after suffering a reaction to his return from a long-standing knee problem last weekend, although John O'Shea's availability following a rib injury softens that blow.

Nigel Pearson insists Leicester will go for the kill at Sunderland with the Foxes on the brink of a stunning recovery.

A win over the Black Cats, and Hull dropping points at Tottenham, would see Leicester become just the third side to survive in the Premier League after being bottom at Christmas.

A draw on Saturday would be good enough if Hull lost at White Hart Lane and would cap a remarkable survival bid.

Leicester - who are three points above the drop zone with two games left - have won six out of their last seven games and, with safety so close, manager Pearson will not change their plans.

"We're not all of a sudden going to be changing our preparation. You have to be flexible enough to change enough during games," said Pearson, who was assistant manager at West Brom in 2005 when they survived after being bottom at Christmas.

"I'd rather draw than lose but because of our circumstances over the last two months draws are not as beneficial, especially against sides around you.

"Our preparation will be along the same lines it has been of late, which will be to produce the type of performance we have had in the last couple of months.

"It's not as simple as saying we want to go out there and play well, it does help when you have a fit squad and we've had that for vast majority of the season."

But Matty James has been ruled out for up to nine months with a crucial knee ligament injury while David Nugent misses the trip to the Stadium of Light with a calf problem, although Andy King (hamstring) is back.

Press Association

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