CHRIS COLEMAN has described how a Newcastle United footballing hero is still playing an enormous part in how he delivers teamtalks as he tries to keep Sunderland in the Championship.

Coleman was Fulham’s club captain when Magpies' legend Kevin Keegan led the Cottagers to promotion to the second tier of English football in 1999 and he still recalls those moments in the dressing room that inspired performances.

The Sunderland manager has had a topsy-turvy opening few months in charge on Wearside and those were summed up in a crazy 90 minutes at Bristol City last weekend; when his team came from three goals down at the break to claim a point.

Coleman admitted afterwards he didn’t rant and rave at half-time at Ashton Gate and that was enough to spark a revival – claiming it is not always the volatile approach that can work in difficult circumstances.

Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s visit of Brentford to the Stadium of Light, he said: “Kevin Keegan was superb, fantastic. He was probably the best I played with. It wasn't always a rallying cry and a fight them on the beaches. You can get carried away sometimes with that. He'd sit down next to you and have a cup of coffee.

“Other times he was there with his sleeves rolled up. He was probably the best manager I played under in those terms but I wouldn't copy him because I'd come across wrong. It's whatever you feel.

“Sometimes I've tried to give stirring teamtalks, other times I've been more passive depending what the atmosphere is but if you can get to the stage where certain individuals are saying things that's what you need because you need them to own it.

“When you're on the pitch it's not about you as the manager. You like to think it is and you can make a tactical change or a substitution but there's so many decisions that need to be made during a game.

“There are 300 transitions at least and on the back of those there’s loads of decisions so it's about trying to get the players to make more good ones than bad ones. They only do that if they take ownership. Last week the players got that result in the second 45 minutes, not me.”

Stressing the need to take ownership is what he has repeated again and again this week and he will probably do so once more when the players are in the dressing room before 3pm today.

Sunderland, three points adrift of safety in the Championship, have shown they possess character and even talent at certain times; highlighted by last weekend’s comeback. Coleman accepts the time for sporadic improvements is over, he needs his players to perform for full matches.

He said: “Last week at half-time I talked about what the end-game could be like for us if things continued. I don’t know what the players were expecting of me at half-time to be honest but to go back to my point earlier, how many times are you going to growl and scrap and fight because there's a pattern there?

“It has to come from individuals, simple as that. I don't like losing my temper and all managers do it, but it's got to come not when you're 3-0 down, it's got to be from the start.

“I said after the game we defended a set-play in the last ten seconds and we were almost heading each other we were so desperate to win the duel because we were hanging on for a point. That's got to be the first minute.”

Sunderland are getting more and more players back from injury. Jonny Williams is available again, as is Adam Matthews and Callum McManaman. He is pondering a system change too, although whatever decisions he makes he is desperate for his players to take charge.

He said: “I think sometimes you need to change the atmosphere, whether that's being calm when they expect something different or being more aggressive.

“When we're at the side of the pitch, managers and coaches, shouting stuff, most of it they can't hear you so you've got to try to get them to make decisions for themselves, take responsibility and not be waiting for someone to push them or say, 'You need to do this.' They do know, they've just got to take responsibility.

“Second half last week I was sat down, I wasn't shouting, and they got on with it. They made decisions and they got across the line. It wasn't because of what I said, probably because of what I didn't say, they made their own decisions and took responsibility. They need to do that more often.”