Sam Allardyce has tasked Lamine Kone with providing Sunderland’s grit in the relegation battle after spending 18 months tracking the centre-half.
Kone has shone in his opening two games in a Sunderland shirt after his protracted move from French side Lorient eventually culminated in the Ivory Coast international sealing a £5million switch to the Stadium of Light.
I found this an interesting project because of the idea of helping them in the relegation battle.
Sunderland boss Allardyce was well-aware of Kone prior to taking charge on Wearside after he had attempted to sign the 27-year-old for West Ham in the summer of 2014, but was unable to agree a fee with Lorient.
Allardyce reignited his interest last month when he saw Kone as the ideal signing for a survival scrap, and the defender was attracted by that challenge.
Kone said: “West Ham were interested when Sam Allardyce was in charge the summer before his last season, but they couldn’t agree a deal with Lorient, so it didn’t come to anything.
“So I knew Sam Allardyce from that, and I obviously know him as a good manager from what he’s done previously in the Premier League.
“Sunderland made an attractive offer for me. There were other clubs interested but none of their interest came to anything concrete.
“I found this an interesting project because of the idea of helping them in the relegation battle.
“I spoke to Sam Allardyce, who said he needed me in a relegation battle, so that appealed to me.”
Kone found his second game in a Sunderland shirt against Liverpool last weekend tougher than his debut against Manchester City, despite the Black Cats coming away with a point at Anfield after a late comeback.
But Kone believes that if Sunderland can reproduce their excellent performance from last week’s defeat to Man City in this Saturday’s visit of Manchester United, then Allardyce’s men can end a daunting run of three fixtures with a victory.
Kone said: “We have the sense in the camp that we can be more solid, we’ve watched the matches and we’re trying to get that understanding going.
“I think we’ve played two quite good games, I think I’ve done personally quite well in the two games. We’ve probably not done as well as we’d hoped to have done with the goals and points but I was really impressed with the performance against Manchester City.
“We did well against Liverpool to be 0-0 and then come back from 2-0 down to 2-2.
“The Liverpool game was the harder of the two games.
“But we have to play the same game against Manchester United as we did against City. We should be able to win if we do that.”