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Gardner: Ball has squad buzzing
ELLIS SHORT is yet to appoint a new manager at the Stadium of Light, but Craig Gardner has revealed the Sunderland dressing room is desperate to win for caretaker boss Kevin Ball.
Ball is in the frame to take over on a permanent basis, but owner Short is weighing up a list of contenders that also includes Roberto Di Matteo, Gus Poyet, Rene Muelensteen and Gianfranco Zola.
Former Black Cats captain Ball, who is in his second stint in temporary charge of the first-team, has made no secret of his desire to take on the job full-time and has the backing of the dressing room to take over from Paolo Di Canio.
Several Sunderland stars have spoken on how Ball has transformed the atmosphere in the squad following the fiery Italian’s departure and Gardner admits the players are eager to pay back their caretaker manager, something Short will be taking note of.
“The spirit in the camp is really high now. Bally's come in and done brilliantly. He's got all the lads buzzing again and the training's been really good,” Gardner revealed.
“You can see it from the togetherness in the last couple of games and we've got the performance that we were working on. It's a shame we never got anything out of the Liverpool game. I thought we were the better team. The performance was really encouraging because Liverpool are a top-class team.
“Hopefully now we can kick on because we've got a really big game on Saturday, and hopefully we can get a result.
“Everyone needs to be behind everybody. Bally's been absolutely brilliant since he's come in. He's a great coach and he knows exactly what he wants out of his sessions. He's a great man and everyone in the dressing room has got total respect for him.
“Training's training at the end of the day. Everyone's got their opinion on training but Bally's come in and it's about football, it's just normal training. You know what he's trying to get across and the players have got the utmost respect for everybody.
“We do want to give our best for Bally and we are doing. It's natural to give your best for a manager. Bally's come in and given us his best so in return we're giving him our best. We're absolutely running our socks off every day in training. All the lads are right behind.”
The Wearsiders are yet to win under Ball, but Gardner believes their performance against Liverpool suggests the squad has been galvanized even if they didn’t come away with the result they needed.
He said: “We were 2-0 down and we could easily have been 2-0 up. Half-time, 2-0 down at Liverpool people were probably thinking it would be three, four, five-nil. But we got the goal quite early, we had other chances we could have scored. We were chasing the game and they ended up scoring on the counter-attack.
“At the end of the day it's all about the fact that we got back into the game. The fans clapped us off the pitch. I can't remember the last time the fans clapped us off the pitch.
“All credit to Bally again, the team talk he gave at half-time was absolutely brilliant. All the lads were chomping at the bit to get out there again. It's just great to see in the changing room.
“At the end of the day we can play well every game of the season and lose, I'd rather play poorly and win, it's all about getting points on the board.
“But you've got to have a measurement of the performance as well.
“Hopefully we can get the performance we've been working on in training and get the three points.”
Sunderland face another uphill task to record their first win of the season when they welcome Manchester United to the Stadium of Light this evening.
The Red Devils have endured their worst start to a season in 25 years under new manager David Moyes, but right-back Gardner insists the Black Cats shouldn’t read too much into their early-season form.
He said: “I can't believe people are writing Manchester United off. Just because they've changed the manager, they haven't changed the players. David Moyes is a top-class manager so we're going to give him every bit of respect off the pitch but as soon as the whistle blows we're going to be hitting the ground running to run them into the ground.”
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