Seb Larsson wants to wing it again as part of Gus Poyet’s common sense revolution.
Poyet led Sunderland to their first victory of the season on Sunday, supplying the Black Cats with the belief they sorely required in their battle to climb out of the Premier League’s drop zone.
When asked afterwards what he had altered to transform Sunderland from the listless bunch that shipped four at Swansea, his answer was he had resolved to play his players in their given positions.
That meant Phil Bardsley back to right-back, Jack Colback shifted to his central midfield berth and Larsson, who has often been used in the centre of midfield, reverting to more of a wide role.
It was the first time since the early days of the Martin O’Neill era he had been played there and Larsson responded with a performance full of the endeavour and enterprise which has been missing from Sunderland’s performances this season.
The Sweden international welcomed that shift in emphasis and admitted it was useful for him to have two hard-working central midfielders deployed alongside him. Now he is desperate for the improvement of Sunday to run into next weekend’s
Larsson said: “It was a bit of a funny system, kind of playing inside a bit but on the wing, but I thought it worked out quite nicely. I do like being out towards the wing. I like having two central midfielders next to me.
“Whether the manager thought he needed more experience or not I don’t know. I was delighted to be involved. He’s been quite frank about the competition for places, telling us to make sure we stay in the team. That is what I tried to do.
“It was three points but it was a big derby win and we enjoyed it on Sunday night - but the important thing is to make sure we kick on from here.”
That is now the key for Sunderland, who followed up last season’s derby win with a victory over Everton but then failed to win again for six months.
It was what Roy Keane was moved to brand ‘typical Sunderland’ when his team proceeded to lose sloppily at Stoke in the midweek which followed the last Wearside win for the Black Cats. Larsson recognises that with four points still separating Sunderland from safety, they cannot afford to bask in the afterglow of their derby win too much.
He added: “We enjoyed ourselves but we’re still in a bad situation in the league so we have to make sure we use this to kick-start our league campaign, make sure we get more points on the board, and push up that league.
“Nevertheless, it was a hugely significant result for Sunderland who were fully aware of the transformative ability of winning a derby.
It has transformed the red and white agenda, which was stuck on criticism of the players last week, and given them a new lease of life.
Larsson said: “These games are special. First of all we were desperate for the three points and our first win of the season. We spoke about it during the week, there was no better game than that one to get it and kick-start our season. I have been involved in a few of these and they are special games, they really are.
“It gives the fans something to smile about, which is very nice.
“We know what this game means to everyone up here and they don’t come bigger than this one, to us anyway, with the situation we were in, we were desperate for the points.
“It was heading for 1-1 and I don’t think we could have complained with a draw, maybe that would have been the fairest result, but we started the game really well.”