On Preston and building on our performance this weekend:
We wanna build off the performance at Preston where we played very well. I thought the team worked extremely hard, (we had a) fantastic following, and really we could have got the win (that) we would have deserved. I think we could have had a penalty late on, but we gave a good team a good game and ultimately we’ve (got) to benefit from that and build off that performance and ultimately break this hoodoo that everybody will still be talking about until we break it. There’s no better opportunity than this weekend - QPR can be a tough team for us with Ian Holloway in charge, but we wanna get back to winning ways.
On the international break:
I think we’ve got seven or eight away on international duty. The benefit has been that one or two lads have had niggles which has allowed them to get them sorted. It’s allowed us to get some extra fitness work in to the likes of Callum Mcmanaman and other lads coming back from injury as well - Duncan, Paddy, Maja’s back training with us now, so ultimately on the other side of it this weekend they’ve had a few days off as well, so its the right balance. It isn’t until Thursday that we’ll get everybody back from international duty and then you take stock, analyse who’s available, who isn’t available, then we try and do some work for the QPR game.
On his comments about non-attenders after the Ipswich defeat:
Just about what I’d said on that night - just to sort of confirm one or two people’s questioning what I’d said about on that night, the comments that I’d made about people commenting on the game who hadn’t been to the game weren’t aimed at Sunderland supporters, it was more the generalisation of other supporters and people in the media who’ll have only seen the result and not the performance, and put alot of question marks against the players and their attitude to what they’re trying to do for this football club. The one thing that I’ll never do and never have done in the past is criticise your own supporters because one, I’m not like that and two, I appreciate the time and effort and money that they go through, length and breadth of the country, and we have to be all in this together.
On our home hoodoo:
Records are there to be broken, and (that) always has been the case when anybody throws any facts like that in to you, you always say, there to be broken, so somewhere down the line we’re gunna win and lets just hope its this weekend and then we can move on. We’ve got quite a few games at home this weekend (weekend? I think he means coming up) so it’ll be a great feeling to get that first victory and then hopefully build off it with the number of games that we have got coming at home.
On how we can improve our fortunes:
The competition for places is going to come really to the fore now with players that are going to come back, that are gunna push each other. Again you saw the work-rate and the effort that the players put in (at Preston) - that standard, the supporters demand that, I demand that, that’s the given when you’re a professional footballer so it’s getting the breaks it’s doing the right things, punishing the opposition, making sure you don’t gift the opposition any goals which we have done over the last few weeks and months. But what we’ve got to do is really concentrate to the highest order at both ends of the pitch, and hopefully the result can lead to another positive result after that and get us going in the right direction where we wanna get to.
On Paddy McNair’s return to the fold:
When you look at Paddy - (he) was quite a big signing 18 months ago, he’s a versatile player and they’re vital to your team, (they) can go and play any position that you want them to and they’ll give you everything and when you’re somebody that is (as) athletic as he is - he’s 6 foot 2, powerful, strong, good on the ball with his pedigree speaks for itself, comes from Manchester United and (is a) Northern Ireland international. He’s gunna be welcomed back but he’s very much like Duncan - we’re not just gunna rely on ‘em, we have to be careful of their injury and not rushing ‘em back too quickly but they’re moving in the right direction, both of ‘em.
On the U23s and using them to get players back fit:
We’re trying to build relationships right through this football club, from the first team right down to the U9s coaches, because we are all in this together, we’ve got an affinity with each other we’ve got to make sure the club sees a pathway for the younger players to come through and get some game time and fulfill ambitions of playing for this football club. It’s great for Paddy to drop back into the 23s, and they’ll have some of the 23s that will be pushing and trying to make an impact on the game (tonight against Hertha Berlin) because they’ll see an opportunity to get into the first team with the likes of George (Honeyman) and Lynden (Gooch) and others already this season because of where we are as a club and what I’ve allowed them to do.
On Josh Maja:
It was a big blow for the lad because he’s waited patiently for his opportunity, worked hard pre-season and looked very good, looked strong, powerful, and something out of nothing suffered the knee injury so (it was) a big disappointment for him as a person but ultimately for us as a team, especially when we’re lacking a little bit at the top end of the pitch. But, when we’ve got them all back, then it’s going to be some great competition - they’ll all be fighting for that starting position and it gives me that opportunity when you look at the bench, whoever’s on it, to say “right, go, you can go and change the game”, when maybe over the last few weeks we’ve not had that.
On Lewis Grabban:
He’s working well with the physios, again its a procedure that we have to go through, any player who is out injured don’t get rushed back cos they’re back for the long term rather than the short term, but he’s making good progress and I’m sure he’ll be back in the red and white shirt very soon.