Sebastian Larsson believes he has seen signs Sunderland can wear opponents down under Gustavo Poyet.
Wednesday’s 2-1 League Cup win at home to Southampton was the closest the Black Cats have come to producing the football their new coach craves.
The Uruguayan is a disciple of patient pass-and-move football, and Larsson feels the message is starting to get through. The Swede said: “We know what the manager wants and it is quite different to what we had before.
“He wants us to be a lot more comfortable on the ball and defend a lot less than we have.
“There were good signs there against Southampton. Sometimes you do need to just keep the ball without really hurting the opposition and in that way, although you might not create too many chances, you will tire the opposition out.
“We have been on the receiving end of those sort of tactics many times this season when we have had to work so hard, then we have suffered for it in the last 20 minutes. We need to turn the tables around and do that to other teams.
“In the first half I felt there were clear spells when we did that, especially after the first 15 or 20 minutes. We started keeping the ball and they had to work hard. You could see that they tired.”
The clinching goal, finished by substitute Larsson, was a perfect illustration of what Poyet is aiming towards.
“No it was a brilliant move, a really good move and those are the times when you have to try and use that little bit of space that you get,” he said.
“The ball ended up with Jozy (Altidore), who has seen me coming and laid it off perfectly. All I had to do was pass it in.
“I didn’t have to break my stride. I just had to run on to it and finish. I let him know I was coming and he did the rest with a great pass to end and fantastic move and thankfully it turned out to be the winner.”
The win was only Sunderland’s second against Premier League opposition this season – both under Poyet – and set up a December 17 home quarter-final with his old club Chelsea.
“We knew we would play them if we got past Southampton and it is another home tie in the cup, in the last eight, which makes it very important for us,” Larsson added.
“It is a great time right now to be winning football games and if we can do that in any game, league or cup, it always helps.
“We would have liked to have had three more points rather than beating them in the cup but we will keep going andkeep trying to improve our position.
“It’s now all about winning football games and getting that feeling back in the dressing room, whether it is in the cup or the league it doesn’t matter because it builds confidence.
“We will have Chelsea twice in the space of a couple of weeks, so it will be tough but we can only do our best.
“We know where we are in the league and the position we are in, but if we can keep improving and building then we will start to climb the table. I know we can do it.
“It is all about breeding confidence and we have won two out of our last three now which sounds a hell of a lot better than it has done for a while.
“That’s the way you need to look at it and gain confidence because confidence is such a massive thing in football.
“You can disappear very quickly and gain maybe not as quickly, but I think we are gradually beginning to build up a little bit of confidence and a win in the cup will not do us any harm at all.”