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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 06:55 GMT 07:55 UK
The way forward for Wilkinson
BBC Sport's Steve Cram talks to Online's Andrew McKenzie about what new Sunderland boss Howard Wilkinson and his assistant Steve Cotterill needs to do to get the club back on track.


Win the fans over
A large section of the fans at the Stadium of Light had lost faith in Peter Reid and made their voices heard at home matches.

Sunderland fan Steve Cram
Cram is a massive Sunderland fan

Cram feels this should change and the crowd will get behind the new boss.

"Collectively the fans have been fantastic, they have had a lot of things to cope with over the years but 99 times out of 100 we get behind the team," he said.

"I'm sure they will be no different whatever they think of the appointment, when the players walk out they still support the players and the football club.

"You can voice your opinion away from the game, but during the game you are either supporting your team or you're helping the other side."


Home form
Sunderland were almost unbeatable during the first four seasons at the Stadium of Light.

But last season they won just seven games and scored 18 goals in 19 home matches.

They have already suffered defeats to Fulham and Everton at their impressive stadium this campaign.

"The success of Sunderland in recent years has been our ability to win at home and the Stadium of Light until recent months has been a fortress," added Cram.

"The fans need to get behind the team again when we are at home, get the results and make sure we've got a platform to build on."


Win the players over
Apart from Michael Gray, the Sunderland squad were all bought by Peter Reid.

Many of the players came out in support of Reid and it remains to be seen how they take to the new management team.

"There are a lot of players brought into the club by Peter Reid and any new manager has to win players over," Cram said.

"The transfer window doesn't open until January so he's got to make the best of what he has got there."


Goals
Sunderland's goalscoring record over the past two seasons has been abysmal, with just 29 in the Premiership in the 2001-2002 campaign.

"Somehow he has to look at the way the team has been playing and why we have not been scoring goals in particular," Cram said.

"Last year we didn't have the replacements, but this time we have Tore Andre Flo, Marcus Stewart, Kevin Phillips is back soon and we've still got (Niall) Quinny and young David Bellion who looks like developing into a good player.

"So he has to make sure the supply is right, I think it's the creativity that's been lacking so that needs looking at.

"I think they've got enough good players at Sunderland to make sure that we don't do as bad as last year and there's enough time to turn it around."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
New Sunderland boss Howard Wilkinson
"I knew this was the right place for me"
Steve Cram
"There are enough good players at Sunderland"
 VOTE RESULTS
Will Howard Wilkinson keep Sunderland up?

Yes
 25.93% 

No
 74.07% 

18616 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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