CONSIDERING Regis Le Bris has spent just three days with Sunderland's players on the training ground, it's understandable that the head coach was keen to stress that he's not yet drawn too many conclusions.

But one thing is already absolutely clear: he knows how he wants his team to play - and he believes it will excite the supporters on Wearside.

Sunderland's head coach wants to give the fans a team to be proud of, but also wants to ensure his side represents the identity of the city. That means hard work and energy. But having studied his squad from afar and spent countless hours watching games from last season, he also firmly believes that he's taken charge of a squad that is perfectly prepared to quickly take to his demands.

He wants a high and aggressive press, he wants speed and he wants attacking football that's easy on the eye.

And the players are already well aware of their new boss's expectations.

"We spoke about it with the players on Wednesday morning," said Le Bris yesterday.

"I believe that the identity of the team must be linked with the history of the club and the city, and the fans. We have to gain their energy and so we want to be a proactive team.

"That means having an idea in every phase of the game, in defence, attack, counter-pressing, set pieces, I explained that it's a question of balance: the Championship is very long, the games are 100 minutes now.

"The main identity is intensity, so high pressing is very important and so too is the speed of our attacks. But also we have to control the game in other moments, and we have to be able to deal with different circumstances."

He continued: "All the players have a style of play. We need to adapt to be able to use their strengths but I think this team can press high, they did well in many games last season but just weren't consistent enough.

"Also, the technical level is high so we can have fast attack, maybe six, seven, eight passes to reach the goal, but also we can control the game, so it's a question of balance.

"If we share this intention, we can have a very energetic game and hopefully it will be very exciting for the fans."


When it comes to formation, Le Bris is open-minded but there's a particular set-up he favours most.

"With my experience at Lorient, I had the opportunity to test many systems because of the turnover in players," he said.

"I like a 4-4-2 in defence and a 4-3-3 in attack because I think these two systems are very versatile and you can do many things within them in terms of the triangles, the links and the relationships between the players.

"This could be the first step for the team, from where we can analyse and assess if it works. If not, we can change.

"But the identity of the team is important and it's better to keep a system for a while and to see how it develops, and the areas where you make improvements."

While Le Bris has a clear idea of how he wants his Sunderland team to play and look, he admits that won't happen overnight.

He said: "It’s hard to say because I’ve only had four training sessions and the main part to assess at this point is the games. We’ll have a game in 10 days, which will be the first step, and then during the camp in Spain we will have another game. It depends on many, many things so it’s difficult to say.

"I want to feel the energy, I want to feel the willingness to be a team and then after we will have many problems because the opponent can be strong, and maybe better than us, but if the mentality is good, that’s the first step to improving and where we can solve problems on the pitch."

What gives Le Bris real confidence moving forward, however, is the shared vision on Wearside.

"Here, with the owner and the sporting director, they are very clear on the way they want to pilot the club," he said.

"The whole organisation is strong and very clear in their goals. So for me, that was the first step. We also needed to be clear about the identity of the club and what we want to do together and how we want to achieve our goals, and these ideas are very clear.

"After, there was another layer, we as a team, as a coaching staff and the whole of the staff surrounding the team are very well organised. If we have this structure, we can train and exploit our strengths.

"The whole team and identity are very linked and this provides a high strength."