Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat: We can only improve
Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat has promised his under-fire players will do what it takes to win over the club's fans at the Stadium of Light on Saturday against Swansea.
Dutchman Advocaat, 67, has watched his side capitulate in their opening two Barclays Premier League matches this season with inept displays throughout his line-up being met with furious criticism.
Former defender Michael Gray, working for local radio, delivered a withering verdict after last week's 3-1 home defeat to Norwich, while Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer - a Newcastle favourite - has claimed the Black Cats are already "doomed".
Advocaat described his side's form as "frightening" after the latest disappointment against Norwich and held clear-the-air talks on Sunday with his players, who held a further meeting of their own later in the week.
"After the game we always have training and a meeting. This time it took a bit longer because the players could also say something," he said.
"During the week they had a meeting with only the players, but it's only positive.
"I understand a little bit the (media) comments and the articles, but normally the panic starts in March or April, but it seems to have started now and that's quite early."
Advocaat confirmed summer signing Younes Kaboul will play no part against Swansea due to a knee injury, while Spanish midfielder Jordi Gomez remains sidelined with a similar problem.
Fans have called on club chairman Ellis Short to invest heavily in the squad during the last two weeks of the summer transfer window.
Former Belgium and Holland coach Advocaat admitted his current squad could only hope to avoid relegation without the addition of some high-quality new signings, but he remains hopeful of boosting his options before the transfer window closes.
"One thing that I can say, which is 100 per cent, is we will become a better team," Advocaat said. "There is no doubt about that.
"Maybe we need a little more time than others but you will see that we can only improve.
"Some teams maybe are already at the top, but we are not.
"That is an element that we have discussed. This team has to go to the edge, fighting-wise, spirit-wise and we did not do that.
"If you don't do that, the players miss a lot and they understand totally that we have to fight from the first minute to the last minute to get a result, but also to get our fans behind us.
"We will do that on Saturday, there is no doubt about that."
Sunderland have been linked with a season-long loan bid for Napoli's former Swansea midfielder Jonathan de Guzman and Utrecht striker Sebastien Haller, but Advocaat refused to discuss specific targets.
"So far we are still working on it (bringing new players in), but then again they are still playing for another club," he added.
"They are not playing for us, you'll have to wait and see.
"I have never mentioned names or positions. It is the media who is doing that."