ALFRED N’Diaye has revealed he has been given a licence to roam as part of Paolo Di Canio’s red-and-white revolution.
Di Canio’s Black Cats have won two out of the new manager’s three games and look like a completely different team.
While Di Canio’s passion has clearly played a part, there has been a wholesale tactical overhaul too.
It was clear from Saturday’s defeat of Everton Sunderland’s two central midfielders had been deployed in a different role under the new boss, who has been at pains to encourage his players to take more attacking risks.
In an interesting insight into Di Canio’s training-ground approach, N’Diaye has confirmed it was a deliberate ploy from a manager who has a very different “perception” of how the game is played from his more cautious predecessor. It appears
to have helped the former France under-21 midfielder, who delivered by far his most accomplished performance in the crucial win against Everton.
The assumption has always been N’Diaye is a defensive player who will break up the play, but the man himself has set his sights on becoming more of an attacking threat.
He is desperate to open his account in England.
N’Diaye said: “There is a big difference with the new managers.
“With Martin O'Neill it was good but with the new manager it is good for me as well. For the moment it is very good.
“To be honest the new manager does not have the same perception of football as Martin O'Neill.
“He thinks central midfielders need to go and help the forwards, he wants us to go forward more.
“Because of that I am probably playing a bit more offensively now.
“I want to score now in England. I came in January and I am yet to score – I thought I would have scored more to be honest.”
Di Canio’s men have a free weekend before heading to the Second City on Monday for a potentially pivotal fixture against fellow strugglers Aston Villa.
A win for Sunderland would extend the gap between themselves and Paul Lambert’s team to six points and nudge them on to the 40-point mark.
That, N’Diaye says, would be enough to rubber-stamp Premier League safety for another year.
He added: “If we win on Monday we will be safe, our problems will be over.
“If we win we get towards 40 points and that should be enough.”
Should that happen, thoughts will immediately turn to next season and how the second phase of the Di Canio revolution will pan out.
Excitement is growing on Wearside about the potential of the new boss to improve the club but N’Diaye insists no-one inside the dressing room is getting too far ahead of themselves.
He said: “I don't think too much about next season yet. At the moment I am just thinking about staying in the Premier League – that is my total focus.
“That is the most important thing for the club, we must finish well this season. After that, I will think about next season.”
At one point you might have asked whether N’Diaye would be part of those plans but recent form has hinted at the impact N’Diaye could have with a full pre-season under his belt.
He added: “I'm feeling good. I think we are playing well.”