Sam Allardyce hailed the performances of January signings Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone after they inspired Sunderland to a 2-1 win over Manchester United.
Khazri’s early free-kick gave the home side the lead at the Stadium of Light and his cross presented Kone with a free header which forced an unfortunate own goal from David de Gea in the closing stages, after Anthony Martial had levelled for the visitors.
Allardyce revealed that both players had pushed themselves to exhaustion during Saturday’s clash but believes the quality at their disposal has given Sunderland a lift.
“It’s a terrific ask from these players to produce that type of performance coming in in January,” he said. “They’re on their knees in there, they’re not used to the pace of the game, it’s much quicker than where they’ve come from.
“But they’re handling it brilliantly and, with the ability they’ve got, it’s making us better in possession.
“Everybody deserves a lot of credit for the way they’ve managed Manchester United and how often we’ve taken the game to them. We created lots of chances and finally got the goal that did win it.
“I hope it lifts their confidence for the fight to come. I’m absolutely delighted for the lads, it was a great performance.
“We’re getting better at being more resilient. We certainly were today to limit Man United to very few chances indeed.”
Allardyce now hopes to see a renewed level of confidence in his side as they head for a warm-weather training camp, with their next fixture not until February 27.
“We got another injury with [Jan] Kirchhoff going off, and Jermain Defoe had to have a fitness test before the game. It showed me the squad is good enough, if they can be depleted by four or five players and produce a performance like that, it tells me the squad is united and trying to pull in the right direction,” the manager added.
“We’ve got two weeks’ break now, we should get some of our players back, and they’ve got a well-deserved break with a bit of warm-weather training. It’ll feel good when they get on the plane.”