David Moyes explains why Didier Ndong didn’t start Burnley draw and admits Sunderland are close to needing ‘something special’

Sunderland 0-0 Burnley FA Premier League Saturday 18th March 2017.  Picture by FRANK REID
Sunderland 0-0 Burnley FA Premier League Saturday 18th March 2017. Picture by FRANK REID

No one is using the ‘M’ word just yet.

This failure to beat Burnley, however, has left it looking more likely than ever that Sunderland, seven points from safety, will face the drop.

It has looked this way before.

Gus Poyet found his miracle, David Moyes is still searching.

“We are getting close to needing something special. It’s been done here regularly. Let’s hope,” said Moyes after Saturday’s goalless draw against Burnley.

“I’m not kidding anyone on and we haven’t done from the start – it’ll need some really big results.

“We took a point. I wanted three points, I see this as two points dropped. I have to use it as something to build on.”

The Black Cats boss targeted five wins to give his team a chance not so long ago.

They have not won since then, but it remains the goal.

For Moyes, however, Sunderland have also suffered from an inability to keep the points total ticking over. It is what Sam Allardyce did so well last season, keeping his team in touch and ready strike in the final weeks of the season.

Moyes is frustrated, but maintaining hope.

He said: “There’s a target to get to at least. If you get 10 wins in the Premier League then you normally find 30 points along with seven or eight draws, you’d be close enough.

“We’ve still not got enough draws. I always thought roughly 10 wins, that was in my head.”

“Totally. There is a chance. You’d be disappointed if I said there was no chance. There is a chance. It’s been done.

“We know it will be difficult, but we are going to keep going and see if we can win the games.”

The task has been made harder by an upsurge in form at Leicester, Crystal Palace and Swansea City, even if the latter found themselves comfortably beaten by Bournemouth in Saturday’s evening game.

“That’s the biggest problem. We can’t look at them if we’re not winning ourselves,” added Moyes.

“What they do is irrelevant if we’re not winning. We would like them to be dropping points as well.”

Moyes has been criticised for his selection on Saturday, with Didier Ndong surprisingly dropping to the bench as Jack Rodwell returned to the starting line-up.

It left the midfield looking very one-paced, but the manager confirmed that it was a tactical decision to try to combat Burnley’s tenacious midfield.

Moyes said: “I decided I wanted Jack and Gibbo together. I thought the game might suit more Britishness in the middle of the pitch.

“I just felt I would go with that in the middle and the two boys up front.”

One positive, though perhaps little consolation given the league position, was that Sunderland kept a clean sheet against a team who had cut them apart on New Year’s Eve.

That was something to applaud, given that Lamine Kone, whose injury at Turf Moor sparked that galling collapse in December’s 4-1 defeat, was ruled out after a training injury.

Despite some moments that were too close for comfort Jason Denayer proved an able deputy, his pace helping shackle Andre Gray.

John O’Shea dealt with the aerial threat of Ashley Barnes as the Black Cats succeeded defensively.

Moyes said: “He [Denayer] done OK. We didn’t deal with things as clean as I’d like, but we kept the ball out. There were a few risky moments. I thought we made the clearest opportunities.

“I saw a big effort, but I know it’s going to be tough. We just need a bit to go for us, build some momentum.

“We’ve got difficult games coming up, but we have to try to win them.”