Jozy Altidore says Sunderland fans will get a team to be proud of this season – but has warned it might take time.
The Black Cats’ new boy is one of nine summer arrivals recruited by Paolo Di Canio as he looks to completely transform the playing style and “mentality” of the struggling side that he inherited.
Altidore has been recruited to lead the line for Sunderland and revealed to The Journal that he had been sold a blueprint of quick, attacking football which will see the team try to play out from the back next season.
There will be an emphasis on attacking football with both full-backs encouraged to push forward – with Di Canio scrapping the patient and ponderous reliance on a slow build-up which ultimately led to Martin O’Neill failing.
Black Cats fans got a glimpse of that in their exciting defeat of Spurs in the Barclays Asia Trophy last month but they are still taking a step into the unknown when they kick off the new Premier League season against Fulham a week on Saturday. Sunderland’s third – and final – public friendly is on Wednesday against FC Midtjylland.
Altidore says that fans should be reassured by the way the team is shaping up but says there is a need for “patience”.
“I think the supporters should be excited but patient,” he said.
“A lot of the guys we’ve bought in have come from a lot of different football cultures and different styles. The Premier League is famous for being a fast-paced and exciting league and it will take an adjustment, for sure. They should be patient about that, but it’s right they’re excited because I think this is a team they can be proud of.
“At the same time you can never replicate a league game. We’ll need the league games and a certain number of them to make sure that we really get our feet under the table.
“Guys who’ve come from Switzerland, Portugal, Italy – it’s a different league and they will need their time to get used to what it is like playing in the Premier League. From there on I think they will bring out their own qualities.”
The players will jet into Denmark tomorrow morning before leaving straight after the game as Di Canio continues to focus mainly on shape and fitness work during an intensive pre-season.
Double sessions have been the norm for Sunderland with football the sole focus for most of the new arrivals. Most of them are only just finding accommodation, such has been the focus on training since they arrived.
“It’s been really good,” Altidore says.
“A lot of the way that we do things here is the same as we had in Holland. We trained twice a day there, we did a lot of similar things in training – not everything, of course because every manager has their style.
“Things are similar here, but every manager puts their unique stamp on things. It hasn’t been that big a deal for me or a particularly big transition in terms of getting integrated into a way of playing.”
Meanwhile, Alfred N’Diaye has revealed that the reason he left Sunderland was because Di Canio was not in a position to offer him first-team football next season.
In another intriguing development of a summer where, essentially, everyone in the squad is available for sale, N’Diaye’s departure was an unexpected but necessary move by Di Canio as he completely remoulds the team.
The French midfielder had won admirers for his combative style but felt that he needed to play to keep developing.
He is on a season-long loan at Eskisehirspor, having only arrived in January from Bursaspor, and is likely to make the switch permanent before the end of the season.
“I’m at an age where I need to play. He (Di Canio) could not guarantee me playing time and I made the choice to go to Turkey,” he said.