Chris Coleman is pleased with the response shown by the Sunderland players to his “demanding” methods a month in to his Sunderland reign.
The 47-year-old took charge with Sunderland bottom of the Championship, four points adrift of safety.
Ahead of the visit of Fulham to the Stadium of Light, second-bottom Sunderland have closed the gap to a point and could climb out of the relegation zone today.
In Coleman’s opening four games, Sunderland have beaten Burton Albion and picked up a superb point at league leaders Wolves, while tasting defeat to Aston Villa and Reading, a loss Coleman described as a “big disappointment”.
They are small steps, but Coleman is pleased with the response of the Sunderland players to his methods, which he admits demand a lot.
“The players have to get used to my methods and how it is done. It is quite demanding, but I see good signs, good improvements,” reflected the ex-Wales boss.
“It will take longer, I think, but I have been happy with them so far.
“They have shown they want to progress and get better and get away from where they are. It is not like they don’t care.
“Even if you are not the greatest team, you can get away with having the right mentality and being organised and wanting to do the right things.
“You can do good things with that and then you have a chance.
“But we do have good players. We have had a mountain of injuries too, but they won’t be injured forever.
“January is coming, it is an important transfer window. Who is staying? Who is not?
“It is about getting it settled and saying ‘this is what we have got, we are fitter, we haven’t got eight or nine players on the treatment table, there isn’t doom and gloom all the time, the record hanging over us at home’.
“We are the only people that can change it and I have been happy with most of the things I have seen here.”
Last weekend saw Sunderland show great resolve and resilience to come away from Molineux with a point, Coleman delighted with his players given they played a third of the game with 10 men after Lee Cattermole’s red card.
Coleman, who reserved special praise for right-back Donald Love after his first league appearance of the season, says the players set the bar in terms of effort, work-rate and commitment.
“I was really pleased with the players, the discipline they showed. Now it is a case of ‘can we show it not now and again but five out of six games?’” said Coleman.
“That is how you get results, performing to a certain level. I was made up for them.
“Catts was devastated to come off – he was gutted when I spoke to him afterwards.
“Two weeks running down to 10 men, but we showed good signs. Donald Love came in and ran his socks off – he was down with cramp at the end. He had nothing left to give.
“You should be getting carried off! Especially where we are, it is about going above and beyond and giving everything you have got.
“I was really pleased for Donald.
“It was a tough game. We played a new formation, but he was fabulous and that’s what we need going forward.
“There has to be complete transparency from me and the staff to the players, which I make sure there is.
“This is the job you need to do, this is what you need to do on Saturday.
“Do it and let’s see where that takes us.”