Gustavo Poyet is looking forward to spending quality time on the training pitch for the first time in weeks.
Poyet’s Sunderland have played nine games in under a month.
It did them good, losing only one and reaching the League Cup semi-finals as they built much-needed positive momentum.
However, without another match until Saturday and at least one new player to integrate, the Uruguayan is grateful for a short break. Poyet said: “I don’t want it this way. I’m pleased we’ve had it this year because it has been a good period for us, but I would like it to stop.
“It was incredible. You practically don’t train.
“If you really want to coach and tell players to do things, you have to train. For us, it’s been play, play, play, recover, play, recover, play. We haven’t been training. You can give the players mental information, but you are not training them and improving things. For the coach, it is difficult.
“For the players, it is okay, because they always want to play rather than train, but for the coaches, it’s tough.
“It’s all about talking. You cannot really train and allow them to grow and develop. It’s worked for us, so I am not complaining, but there are things you need to do in training because you cannot recreate them any other way.
“There are different ways to train a player, but for the last two or three weeks we have only been able to do one.
“We’ve been talking and talking, but we couldn’t really train.
Before the Fulham game, the players basically spent two days resting. We needed to prepare for the game but we basically had just one morning.
“It’s about picking the right time and making sure the subs are ready to come and help you out.
It’s about team-work rather than the coach just coaching during the week.”
Marcos Alonso has been plunged into the back end of this chaotic run, although the Fiorentina left-back has not looked out of place in the team in contributing to wins over Manchester United and Fulham.
Poyet is hopeful the Spaniard will be the first of a number of signings, Sunderland hoping to push through a deal for Argentine central defender Santiago Vergini today.
Brighton and Hove Albion Liam Bridcutt is another target, but the Seagulls show no sign of relenting in their determination to keep the holding midfielder.
Brighton have turned down a Sunderland bid for and a transfer request from Bridcutt and manager Oscar Garcia intends to keep selecting the Scotland international.
Bridcutt missed Saturday’s 1-0 win over Birmingham City, but his manager insists there was an innocent explanation.
“He is still carrying a groin problem and is not 100%,” Garcia explained. “He is a Brighton player and he will be available for selection when he is 100%.”
The transfer business is unlikely to be one-way, Augsburg reportedly showing an interest in striker Ji Dong-won after Borussia Dortmund turned their attention elsewhere.
Ji spent the second half of last season on loan at the SGL Arena, where he scored five goals in 17 appearances.
Midfielder Billy Knott has been recalled two weeks early from a loan at League Two Wycombe Wanderers, but the suspicion is the 21-year-old is to be sold to Port Vale rather than integrated into the first team.
One player the Black Cats are determined not to sell, however – ridiculous bids notwithstanding – is Steven Fletcher, despite interest from Queens Park Rangers, Crystal Palace and Hull City.
With only three goals this season, Fletcher and Jozy Altidore have been rotated up front recently, with neither convincing.