MICHAEL BEALE has challenged his Sunderland players to show consistency as well as character when they travel to Rotherham United for their final game of the year tomorrow.

Beale’s Black Cats reign got off to a poor start when his side suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Coventry City last weekend, but things improved markedly when Jack Clarke’s goal secured a Boxing Day success at Hull City.

Sunderland’s players displayed commendable character to shake off the disappointment of the Coventry defeat to claim all three points against Hull, with the victory at the MKM Stadium lifting them back into the play-off places.

Beale felt the display ticked one of the boxes on his wanted list, but the new head coach now wants to see evidence that his side can become more consistent in the second half of the season. While Rotherham might prop up the Championship table, they proved their mettle by beating Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the mentality and character the players showed (at Hull),” said Beale. “That is a big, big positive for me moving forward that they did that.

“The big thing for me now is that we need consistency. In the first half of our season, we’ve won ten and lost ten, so it’s clear that we can beat anyone but on our off day, anyone can beat us. On the first game of our second-half of the season if you like, that’s a big positive, but we must back it up at Rotherham.


“We have to recover, and how we prepare for this next game is really important. Again, the inconsistency tells me we can’t get too high or too low. We had two really good results (against West Brom and Leeds), we had two defeats (against Bristol City and Coventry). Now, we’ve had another big result (against Hull), and we’ve got two league games then we can take a deep breath. It’s important we keep this going.”

Beale made a couple of changes to his side against Hull, bringing in Jenson Seelt for the injured Niall Huggins and replacing Abdoullah Ba with Bradley Dack, who went on to pick up an injury himself, but initially at least, the former Rangers and QPR boss appears reluctant to make wholesale alterations to either tactics or personnel. That could change as time goes on, though, once Beale’s knowledge of his squad increases.

“I’ve got some ideas coming in, but I’ve not had time to implement (them),” he said. “There’s been a couple of small changes that people will start to see.

“As a coach, I hope the players take their chance, but I do have a queue of people behind me that want a chance under a new head coach.

“They feel they’ve got a better quality in a better area than they’ve shown Sunderland fans so far. That’s a good thing, that we’ve got people dying to get on, jumping to get on the pitch.”