FIRST-TEAM coach Charlie Oatway insists he can tell the difference in Sunderland after 10 games with Gus Poyet at the helm.
Poyet and his backroom staff arrived at the Stadium of Light to take charge of a team boasting just a solitary point on the board and deprived of confidence after Paolo Di Canio’s explosive reign.
Sunderland remain bottom of the Premier League table and still face an almighty battle to extend their seven-year stay in the top flight.
But there have been noticeable signs of improvement, particularly at the back where Sunderland had conceded 16 goals during the first seven games.
Under Poyet, the Black Cats have shipped 14 in 10 games – prior to today’s trip to Everton – including four clean sheets.
Oatway said: “Our immediate priority was to stop getting beat. It was as simple as that – stop conceding goals and try to win football matches.
“When Gus and Tanno (assistant manager Mauricio Taricco) came in at Brighton, they tried to stop them leaking goals and we’ve tried to do that here as well.
“I wouldn’t say steady the ship, but get the way we want to play and how we intend to cope with the Premiership and the players in it.
“I’m not saying we’ve managed to completely do it, but I think you can tell a bit of a difference.
“I certainly can, I’ve watched the majority of the games before I was here.
“Slowly but surely, we’re getting there, I feel.
“But we need results, sooner rather than later.”
The big problem for Sunderland remains their goals for column after netting just four times in the last six league games - three of which came in one match.
Oatway added: “We need to start scoring goals and that’s not just the pressure on the forwards. That’s everybody.
“Everybody is entitled to score goals from set plays or whatever.
“We do need points and we obviously need them sooner or later. I’m not going to tell anyone how to suck eggs.
“But to do that, you need to build your foundations and get them right.
“Gus, Tanno and myself are trying to do that.”