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bring on burnley...
rodwell & gaffer chat

The gaffer and his big summer buy have been chatting ahead of our trip to Turf Moor. Rodwell on season so far: “We have been really solid defensively and now we need to make sure we get some more goals, however, we have only lost once and it was a game we should have taken something from. If we can tighten things up at both ends I think we will be alright, but Saturday’s match will be an intense and physical contest so we need to be on it in every sense. It is a massive game and both clubs need to pick up three points. It will be one of the toughest games of the season; the atmosphere will be electric in what is a compact stadium so it will be a hard test for us. It is always good to pick up a first league win early on and although we have yet to do so we have been playing against very good teams, so hopefully we can do it away at Burnley and kick on.”

Poyet on finally seeing HIS team out on the pitch: “I am seeing my team on the pitch now. I can’t change the quality of the players because I don’t have those powers, but it’s my team. It is a consequence of everything we have done so far during the week. It is the way we treat the players, the way we train and the way we manage the group. It is the quantity and quality of training. In my first training session with everybody last season, 26 players turned up. With all due respect, how do you manage that? The biggest exercise you can do in football is XI versus XI. I still had four players left over? It was difficult at times last year. It was hard at the beginning and it became even harder in January when I brought in a load of players. It made it difficult to maintain that intensity and quality. Of course players are players as well human beings and some know they have no chance of playing. Those that have no chance of playing, their training is not going to be as intense. One exemption if Mavrias. He is outstanding. He should be given a prize. Every now and again he makes the bench, but he trains brilliantly. You always want him with you. You will never take him out of your squad. Why? Because even without being in the team he adds something. They are the characters you want in a squad.”

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It's FRIDAY!
a PRODUCTION STARRING jos, pOYET AND pVa

Well at least my optimism for the Burnley game is better than the rubbish weather we’ve had all week, anyway here’s the news today. First up is captain John O’Shea, who has just broken the record for most clichés used in an interview, beating the previous record held by him last week: “Any game away from home in the Barclays Premier League is difficult whether it is against a team in the top four or a team who has just been promoted. I have played at Turf Moor before and the atmosphere will be electric so that is something we will have to cope with, but hopefully we will get the ball down and play our passing game because if we do that we can create lots of chances. It is going to be difficult, I have seen some of the games they have played and they have been very organised and very competitive. They have some very good players and the manager has worked extremely hard to get where he is in the game, and he has got Burnley playing a good brand of football. They can mix it up by going direct or by playing short passes so we are under no illusions because it will be a tough test, we will have to be on our guard but hopefully we can take something from the game.”

Next up, Gus Poyet reckons he probably shouldn’t have thrown Ricky Alvarez in at the deep end against Spurs: “I know he can play in that (Borini) position, so yes, position-wise he can be a replacement. That is true, but in similarity? No, he is not a striker, he is a wide player. Yet people will see more of him when we are in control. For example, in a game like the one at QPR when we had the ball in the last third a lot he is going to be very important. We need to have that control first, but we are going to use him, no doubt. If I knew the game was like that, I would not have played him in a million years. I did not have a clue it would be that intense and difficult, but it was good at the same time because now he knows. It was a proper welcome to the Premier League. He was surprised because he was like ‘oh my God’. Yet at the same time he was thinking it was an incredible game. If he had watched the game against QPR, he would have thought ‘no problem’. That was a different pace and we had some control.”

Finally, Patrick van Aanholt basically thinks we don’t have a monkey on our back called ‘First Victory’: “I don’t think so, no. We have only lost one game so far and drawn three, so we can be fairly happy. We want to win every game, but if you cannot do that then of course it is important not to lose. Three points at Burnley would be very nice, though! “I think in every game we go in with the mentality we have to win. Burnley are next and we have to go into it, play our own game and try to take three points over there before moving on to the next one. It is not going to be easy because this is the Premier League and every game is tough. We saw that in our last away game at QPR. We are away from home again tomorrow, but we will play our own game and if we perform well and do the right things, we can win. However, we have to make sure we play the right way, defend well and make the most of our chances.”

Oh and some stats for you numberphilic folks out there:

The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index reveals that Sebastian Larsson has covered 42.90km in his first four games of the season, more than anybody else in the Black Cats squad. The Sunderland set piece taker has also grabbed a goal through his hard work, which has also seen him win 82.35% of his tackles. His hard work is doubled with his distinguished quality on the ball, as he has completed 85.54% of his passes so far in the campaign.

Sunderland new boy Patrick van Aanholt is continuing to impress having become accustomed to the Premier League immediately. The EA SPORTS Index has shown us that the former Chelsea man has hit a top speed of 33.3km/h, and the full back will look to utilise his pace on the counter attack. The Dutch left back has also won an impressive 19 tackles, made 12 clearances and had 13 interceptions.

Connor Wickham was the man described as ‘Sunderland’s ‘saviour’ last season, and will hope to replicate his impressive form in the second half of last season. His form saw him score five goals and create two more in his 14 appearances. The Index shows us that he has completed an impressive 158 sprints with a top speed of 34.1km/h so far this season, and it is that work rate that will surely help him add to his only goal that he has netted so far this season.

If Wickham is to do anything though, he'll have to get the better of Michael Duff, who has made 30 clearances and also racked up eight interceptions so far this season.

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Loadsa CRAIC
Giacc, PvA, JOS and Coates

Following on from Wes Brown yesterday, Emanuele Giaccherini has also been impressed by Ricky Alvarez: “Ricky is a very good player,” the Italian said. “For us, it’s important to have him. We need players like him because the Premier League is a difficult league. “The team is helping him, and the other players who have come in this summer, because we are a group and we work together. Ricky will get better in time. Obviously, for him Saturday was a tough first game. It’s not easy, with languages, the fans, the stadium. It’s new football to him. But for me, it won’t be a problem for Ricky.” Giacc has also said how improved the squad is this season: “The players who have come in for this season are very good players. Ricky Alvarez, Jordi Gomez and all of the others,'' he said. “This team, for me, this year can do better than last year. Last year we suffered, and we saved ourselves with the last two games left. I hope it’s easier this year. We need to not be in a relegation fight.”

John O’Shea has been reminiscing about his Sunderland career so far: “There have been plenty of ups and downs along the way. The highlights are, of course, getting to the League Cup final, beating the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and putting up such a good performance against Manchester City for so long in the final. There are also the games against Newcastle where we have been comfortable winners, they are all memorable moments.”

Elsewhere, here’s Patrick van Aanholt talking about his regular starts this season: “In the team, no-one is secure,” said the 24-year-old. “In training I work hard every day to improve myself and get better and make it difficult for the manager. I know I am the only left-back, but others can also play left-back. I am just doing the best I can do and trying to do what I can to stay in the team. The pace of the Premier League is tough,” he said. “I need to get used to it. I’ve been playing on loan in Holland for the last two years or so and it is different compared to England. But I’ve played four games in the Premier League so I am very happy at the moment with the way I am playing and I am finding it easier the more I play.” PvA also talked about the Spurs game, can we just move on and look at Burnley now? “Everyone in the changing room was saying that it was one of the hardest games they had played,” he added. “Spurs are a good team and it was a tough game. I was very tired. They scored an early goal but we scored the equaliser early as well and it was good to get level so quickly. There is a lot of character in the team and you saw that against Spurs. We could even have won near the end, but at the final whistle we were happy with 2-2.”

So it turns out maybe Fabio Borini did love us after all as he wholeheartedly recommended the club to Seb Coates, the defender stated: “I talked with Fabio. He said that it’s a great club, the training ground is amazing and he told me about the city and the supporters. It was good for me to hear that from him. During the transfer window, I spoke with Gus and he told me that he had an interest to bring me to Sunderland. It’s a good opportunity for me to improve in the Premier League. I will try to do the best I can and help the team. “I’m focused on playing some games this year and improve in the Premier League. I want to show why I am here. Maybe, I expected it to be a learning experience (at Liverpool). It’s hard because it’s a great club and there was a big squad, with a few defenders. For me, it was good because you learn every day. But the manager can only choose two guys to play. I decided to come here to get the chance to play, so for me, it will be great to play some games.”

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The craic on wednesday
Catts, Giacc and Brown

Lee Cattermole reckons Gus Poyet has been a huge influence on him and his more specific role: “I’ve adapted my game to what the manager wants and that is purely and simply a defensive midfielder. I’ve learnt an unbelievable amount under him. I made mistakes last season but I felt I knew where I was trying to get to with my all-round game. I know what the manager wants from me and through pre-season I have worked hard at it. I feel comfortable and good with my game. It is just coming at a good time in my career. I feel focused and I know my job. I’m not having to try as hard on the pitch and all the lads, as individuals, feel a lot more settled in knowing what the manager wants from everyone on the pitch. I am improving and I just want that to continue and for us to pick up more points. The manager has given me a role in the team. It is a big role which you have seen in Gus Poyet sides in the past. It is that defensive midfielder position. I’ve listened to everything he has spoken about in training. There have been ups and downs, but lately it has been a lot more going in the right direction and that’s down to the work I’ve been doing on the training ground.” Cattermole also reckons being happy on and off the pitch has helped him be more consistent and less of a yellow card magnet. “What is important is you go through ups and downs and eventually you work out what helps you bring about a consistent level of performance. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to find that consistent level for 30 to 35 games. I don’t want to be the best player one week and the worst the next. I’m trying to be a good solid performer every week. I feel I’m at that level now. My weekly pattern is more regular. I think that is all down to being a bit older. I’ve been around a long time as I was in the first team at Boro at 17. I think sometimes you are just not old enough to be in the position you are in. It takes time to figure out things yourself. I have a girlfriend now and I have settled down a bit, but I have always prepared right for games. I have always taken my football very seriously, but when I was younger I wasn’t as calm on the pitch as I could have been.”

Elsewhere, Emanuele Giaccherini spent some time in the press room to chat about our mentality. “For me, I think we’ve made a good start,” said the Italian midfielder. “We were very happy with a great point against Spurs, because Tottenham are a very strong team. But Burnley is a different game. Maybe less quality, but they’ll be more aggressive and have more attitude. We are mentally stronger now. The mentality has changed this season.” The wee midfielder is also happy to be back in the Italy squad. “I played two games [in the international break] and we won them both. It’s important for me to be back. It’s good to have Conte in charge. He knows me. It’s obviously important for me to play for Sunderland to continue with Italy, but now I’m only thinking about Sunderland.”

Finally, Wes Brown has been talking about our need for a centre back over the summer and how Seb Coates fits the bill: “We need someone in there 100 per cent. He hasn’t trained much yet, but I’m sure he’ll fit in well. You can probably class Santi (Vergini) as an option as well. But we definitely needed someone in (at centre-half) and I’m sure once he starts training, he’ll fit in tremendously.” Brown also likes the look of Ricky Alvarez, as a player of course. “He’s settled down well. He’s got great skill and I’m sure in a couple more games, he’ll show what he can do. He looks a very good player.”

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ALS Blog
By Melanie Dudley

OK, I know that many readers are not fans or friends of our friends up the road; however, I have a degree of empathy of where they are right now. Being a woman that has been known to make a drama out of a crisis on more than one occasion, I feel the Newcastle fans are taking the drama to a whole new level!

So, good old Mr Pardew, I have taken great delight at the previous three super fooking awesome wins we have leveraged against you and your club, I will not gloat for long because, whilst we waited years, I am sure the tables will be turned at some point. Nothing made me smile more than when you thought you had scored to watch the reality of the situation hit home when it dawned you had not. If Carlsberg wiped smiles off faces, Pardew’s would be the advert that game.

On a personal level, I love Sunderland and Newcastle being in the EPL, I love, love, love derby days. They come with toe curling excitement, fear, dread and the last three, with great celebrations and a sore head the next morning!

However, all that said, does Pardew deserve the anger, frustration and resentment that he faced of late? Last year, his star player was pulled out from under his feet, Mr Ashley is a pure out and out business man, he saw the opportunity for £’s and took it with both hands. I strongly suspect that Pardew had no say whatsoever in that decision and he had to continue the season.

I think NUFC have made a couple of good acquisitions this season, yet, something seems amiss. His relationship with Ben Arfa was just bizarre, I remember watching him play and at times was an absolute beast, and it’ll be interesting to see what he does for the pasty eater.

The comedy value of SAFC fans with #keeppardew amuses me; however, the reality of how much the situation is of his making is still a mystery to me. On a personal level, I think the man is nothing more than a “posh talking” hooligan and if you or I, the genuine supporter of the beautiful game behaved how he has inside of stadiums, we would be barred for life.

Is this man good for football, Newcastle or their players – I suspect not, however, it makes for great back page reading!

In Gus I Trust, a man of controlled dignity

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Today's Craic
Poyet, COATES and hENDO CRAIC

Another dreary morning, however in SAFC Land, Gus Poyet has been talking about new signing Sebastian Coates: “Sebber is my first Uruguayan here. I had one (on-loan Stoke midfielder, Diego Arismendi) for a month at Brighton. I know Sebber, I recommended him to England in the beginning when he came to Liverpool. He was a 6ft 3in centre-half, calm on the ball and with aggression. He’s a good player. Slowly, he’s going to have to start competing with Wes and John and when he has the chance to play in any game - even in the cup - he needs to perform. I think it’s a great chance for him as well and a great challenge. We needed a centre-half too, so it works both ways in helping each other. From what I know, his progression (at Liverpool) was well-explained when he went there,” added Poyet. “They were looking for a young centre-half to have a year behind (Jamie) Carragher and company, to learn English football and adapt. And then, it’s football. They changed the manager, a new group came in, Carragher stayed another year and then an injury and you find yourself in a different situation. When he came, he came with that kind of programme for his career. Everything was clear. But then everything changed. He just needs to understand what we do now and then it’s up to him.”

Poyet has also been talking about honesty, especially with his new players: “I think that’s the best thing with us. When it comes to players, we are very honest and explain what they’re going to get. If you want me to tell you what you want to hear, that’s not me. Every player has a different situation. I had a player coming to Brighton and remember saying to him that he’s going to play four or five games. Now, in the five games if he does nothing, he’s going to have a problem. But he didn’t come because he  wanted to play 46 games. That’s okay. But it was clear. With [Coates] for example, he was there at Liverpool and he was in a position where it didn’t look great for him. Now it’s better for him because (Valentin) Roberge has gone. That means we’ve got three centre-halves and Santi [Vergini]. He’s going to have a great chance to challenge.”

Elsewhere, Jordan Henderson has been named Liverpool’s vice-captain and we’re all chuffed for him so is Brendan Rodgers by the sound of it: "Jordan and Steve are the moral compass of our group, how they conduct themselves on and off the field, how they train, how they work," Rodgers said. “There's a great story of him joining here, when he came in and had a difficult season. The first summer I came here he had the opportunity to leave. I did not push him out or ask him to go. He wanted to stay. He has really grown in confidence. You see now for club and country he hold himself really well, he's got a great stature and I think he will be around here for years to come."

In other news, the ressies lost 4-0 against Man United’s second string. Adnan Januzaj came back to haunt us yet again with a hat-trick.

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Monday Morning Craic
Poyet, AJ and WES

Weekend goalscorer Adam Johnson has been talking about how pleased he's been with his goals record this year and our start to the season: “I’ve been happy with how things have gone for me since January,” said Johnson. “This year has gone well for me, and I just want to push on and give things a really good go. In terms of the goals, I’m delighted to get off the mark early on. I want to score as many as I did last season and at least hit double figures. I could have had a second at the weekend. It went close, and when I hit it, I thought it had a chance. We showed character to stay in the game and get a point,” he said. “It was very open at the start, it was a hot, tough day, and Spurs are a strong, powerful team. But we have come back again and that shows the character of the team coming through, with us scoring late. If we get a win next weekend (at Burnley), it will have been a great start. At this stage last year, we only had a point, and it has been a difficult start fixture wise. We have had tough home games (against Manchester United and Spurs), and anywhere you go away from home in the Premier League is difficult.”

In case you've been living on the moon we really did not have much of the ball at the weekend, and Gus Poyet has been talking about possesion, the techincal side of the game and key moments in games: “It was hard, I felt for the players. We went to Birmingham, and we were technically terrible. We couldn’t pass the ball and that wasn’t because of Birmingham, it was because of us. But on Saturday, we couldn’t get the ball which is different. For players like Ricky Alvarez and Adam Johnson not to have the ball, and only running to try to stop the players they’re marking is hard. But you need to wait, keep working and working, and sooner or later you’re going to have an opportunity. That’s how the players have to manage things on the pitch. We work for things, but they are on the pitch. There are moments that you somehow have to sort out, and get something from the game. The mentality helps, the formation and the players coming on making a difference. That was a proper wake-up for Ricky Alvarez. If you don’t want to play a game, it’s this one because of the intensity, the ups and downs and the tackles. But now he knows what to expect every week. I think everything is set up for Ricky for the future, and he knows what to expect in the next few games. He’s a good technical player, and he’s going to have more of the ball than against Spurs. When you’re setting up a style of play, you cannot only rely on playing well because you know that as soon as you play bad, you’re going to lose the game. I always say that there are games that are going to be difficult. I can help them by making a couple of changes which work or not. But most of the time, it’s down to the team and the leaders – the Lee Cattermoles – making a couple of proper tackles and bringing the whole of the crowd up. Even getting a yellow card, which is part of the game, and then the players coming on can make an impact. But I think the mentality is great. They never gave up – they accept sometimes that we need to fight a bit harder. You work on things and try to convince your team of things. You can do a lot. But until it happens, you’re not going to achieve that. When you have a bad day at the office and the opposition is better than you, they need to work it out and somehow get something from the game. Those kind of situations happened a lot on Saturday. There were moments when it was very hard for us.”

Elsewhere, Wes Brown has also hoyed in his views on our season and the Spurs game: “Apart from QPR, we’ve not lost. We’re not playing as well as we can, like we were at the end of last season. But it’s still early on and hopefully that will come. As long as we can keep getting points, that’s the main thing. We’ve got a good bunch of lads, who know what is expected. We have got to start winning a couple of games, but if we can keep showing the same desire from the last 15-20 minutes against Spurs and do that at the beginning of the game, we can maybe get a few better results.” On the game, the defender said: “They started very well, although I know we scored straight after, but afterwards, they put a lot of pressure on us and it was difficult at times. They played very well. They always put pressure on us and made it very difficult for us. They hit the post and the crossbar a couple of times. (Emmanuel) Adebayor plays up front and then the rest of the players move, which makes it difficult to mark them. But we defended quite well and even though they had opportunities, we managed to get back in the game. We were happy with a point, but we’ve got to look to next week now to push on and get more points.”

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post Spurs craic…
REACTION

Sunderland drew 2-2 at home to Spurs in a game where we went behind twice to snatch a draw. Goals from Nacer Chadli and Christian Eriksen 2 minutes into each half almost condemned us to defeat, but response goals from Adam Johnson and an own goal from Harry Kane allowed us to pick up a well deserved point. P.s. the ref was shocking.

Gus Poyet was complimentary of Spurs and sounded like he enjoyed the game! He said: "It was an incredible game of football and it was a magnificent start for the fans, although I'm not sure it was the same for the managers. It was a key moment when Adam Johnson equalised straight away after the Spurs goal because if it is 1-0 for a long time it is a totally different game. I think it was exciting to watch and I thought Spurs were very good today, they made it very difficult for us but we are a proper team and we try hard – we always go on and try to get something from the game. The most important part of today was that we fought back and got a point which is very good for us."

"There are situations during the game when you can help the team but it is up to the players, so today it is important to realise how the players feel, how they made decisions and how they took control. You need to put yourself in there and apply pressure to get something from the game, we conceded one unfortunate goal but we got back into the game in a similar way. We tried our best and that is who we are, and although I do not think every game is going to be like this one I am sure it will bring plenty of positives and good things for the future. I am really pleased with the team and I am really pleased to see them take something from the game because they fought back and found solutions, the idea now is to rest and prepare 100% for the next game."

Poyet has explained his decision to leave Steven Fletcher out of the team to face Spurs, where Fletch didn't even make the bench. "Was it a tactical decision? Yes it was. For the first time from the moment I came here, apart from the (Capital One Cup) final, when Jozy wasn't in, it was really hard (to select the bench). It's hard decisions. I think it's about making an impact on the team, and it normally only happens in the top teams when big players are out of the squad. It was tough, but I hope that and am sure that Fletch will react well and make somebody else be out of the bench next week. I am happy with the point. It's the hardest game we've played so far, and the best team we've played against by far. Really, it was a hard game for us. It was a proper point, and one that we needed to work really, really hard to get. You need to work it out, to try to fight and stay in the game, sometimes with a little bit of luck and sometimes knowing that you're going to have a chance. That was the big positive."

In other news, here's some stats for you saddos out there: Patrick Van Aanholt had 59 touches, more than any other Sunderland player. Ricky Alvarez completed 100% of his passes before being substituted, more than any other player. Jack Rodwell led the game with 8 tackles. Adam Johnson completed 4 successful dribbles, more than any other player. Connor Wickham was the most-fouled player in the game (3).

Emanuele Giaccherini was also happy with our performance, and also took time to praise the fans. Giacch said: "I'm very happy after that performance; I think it's a great point for us as Tottenham are a very good side. They have very experienced players in their side and I think we did well against them. It was unlucky to concede so early in the game but we showed good spirit to pull one back within two minutes, it was a great goal from Adam [Johnson] – and then we did exactly the same in the second half. I thought the Sunderland fans were very good today, they didn't give up and neither did we. To come back in the game twice shows we are a determined side, I think that it's a hard earned point for us and a good result for the team."

Meanwhile our Uruguayan manager believes that South Americans can have a difficult time adjusting to our league. He said: "Two things are important when South Americans try to settle here. One, I think the English adapt better to the players coming from South America than they did before. In the beginning it was all new to the English. There were only two or three (South Americans) before, so it was harder. Now that the Premier league has become so international, there are so many foreign players, South American players around, so every single club is doing the right things to make sure they adapt quickly. That's in life, but playing football is every weekend, so players can be different out there too.

"People like Carlos Tevez adapted in five minutes and other players like Nacho Scocco maybe needed a year. He didn't want to wait a year. He is not here now. The situation here is easier for somebody like Ricky, for example, because of us. We can explain things to him every day, what we mean, and the reasons behind we do things. He can get it right, not with a translator, he can get it."

Speaking of South Americans, Santiago Vergini had a calamitous start at Sunderland last season, but by the end turned into a very sturdy right back. When asked, Santi revealed he did believe the Man City match was the turning point for him. He said: "Yes, I believe so. But not only on a personal level. I also believe that really was the case for the whole team. In terms of football, when I arrived we were actually bottom of the table, so it really was a difficult period for the team. After playing Manchester City, I think that's when there was a decisive moment. There was a change following this game, we had some good results which ultimately enabled us to stay up."

He then pitched in on what Poyet alluded to: "In terms of adapting to life here in England and everything, it really happened quite quickly. That was fairly easy and that was down to the fact that I had team-mates here, the likes of Nacho and Oscar. We all got together with our families and that really did make things a great deal easier. The manager helped too. The question of language is particularly important. For example, in the first few months, there were things that I perhaps didn't quite understand very clearly, but we were able to resolve these issues speaking the same language."

From a bit further up the Americas, Jozy Altidore appreciates the support from fans, but he knows he just has to get on with his own game and score goals. He said: "Everyone keeps saying there is this support for me, I just try to focus on going about my business. I try to affect the games I play in, scoring goals hasn't come yet, but I just try to do that. I don't try to focus on what is going on anywhere else. It comes with the territory. When it goes good you know you have the spotlight on you, so when it goes bad you have to take it. That's just part of it, we all had to take it and there's nothing I can do or any of us can do about what happened last season. You just have to hope and work hard.

"I will start to listen to the fans! I want to score my goals, obviously. I am a striker. Everybody is desperate to score goals. It is difficult. I would be more depressed if it was just me not scoring, though. There are other guys too. So maybe it's more than just the strikers. But at the same time we do have more pressure on us to score goals as strikers, we have to try to fix that. It's strange because with America almost every time I play it goes well on the big stage. I want to succeed here, otherwise I would have gone. We all do. Me, Connor (Wickham), (Steven) Fletcher, we all do, otherwise we would have gone."

Jozy also conceded that last season's goal drought put a dent in his confidence: "Of course last season affected me. I was in a team that was struggling. We couldn't score goals, we were on our way down and it felt terrible to be part of that. It was a really bad feeling. To come away from that, be safe, it's kind of gave everyone a lift. It's something nobody wants to be part of, a team that goes down. Not just the team, but for the city and the fans too. These people live for the team, we are all happy to be part of it and we want to make up for last season's struggles." I like Jozy, I really want him to succeed here, he just needs to score some goals.

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