Sunderland boss urges Patrick van Aanholt to silence doubters

Sunderland's Patrick van Aanholt.
Sunderland's Patrick van Aanholt.

Patrick van Aanholt needs to “shut up” those still doubting his defensive credentials after a dramatic turnaround in his performances, insists Sam Allardyce.

Sunderland defender van Aanholt returned to the Holland fold during the international break after making his first appearances for his country in two years during the friendlies against France and England.

The left-back has been Sunderland’s most improved player during Allardyce’s six-month tenure after regaining his confidence from the error-prone displays at the start of the season.

But Allardyce believes that a view still exists about van Aanholt being a defensive liability, which the ex-Chelsea man needs to banish by maintaining his performances since the turn of the year.

Allardyce said: “His talent is there for us all to see, but I heard about people saying ‘he can’t do this, he can’t do that’.

“I had to shut someone up the other day, who said he’s great going forwards, but still can’t defend.

“I said ‘no, he can defend now. You clearly haven’t watched him recently.

“That was someone I’ve known a long time in the game.

“That perception is still around and he’s got to get rid of that perception.

“It was perhaps a reality before, but now it’s only perception because he’s defending very well.”

Dick Advocaat was forced to drop van Aanholt prior to resigning as Sunderland boss after the 25-year-old made a series of costly clangers in the early stages of the campaign.

But Allardyce gradually brought van Aanholt back into the fold after giving him clear instructions over how to improve the defensive aspect of his game.

“I’ve enjoyed working with a talent as big as his and trying to enhance it into being one of the most consistent full-backs in the league,” added Allardyce.

“From my point of view, it was just about telling him to defend like this and this.

“Going forwards, it’s his forte and he can make and score goals.

“He’s fit as a fiddle and can get up and down.

“But when they’ve got the ball, he needed to start doing this, this and this.

“Because he’s taken that on board, he’s become a very good full-back.”