Midfielder encouraged by Stamford Bridge display.
Craig Gardner believes Sunderland can take heart from their performance against Chelsea as they head into the final six games of the season.
After slipping to a narrow defeat in West London, despite taking the lead in the first half, the midfielder admits it was cruel for the Black Cats to lose the game the way they did.
Two second half deflected goals inside 10 minutes were enough to gift Chelsea the win, however, Paolo Di Canio’s men will not be dwelling on that result.
“I thought we were brilliant in the first half - perhaps up there with the best we’ve played all season.” Gardner told safc.com.
“The lads looked really organised and balanced; we created chances and counter-attacked and then got our goal.
“In the second half we conceded two sloppy goals and it’s up to us now to go back out on the training field and work on making sure mistakes like that don’t happen again.”
In what has been a whirlwind week at the football club, the midfielder admits Di Canio’s arrival has had the desired effect on the dressing room.
“The boss has been brilliant since coming in. He knows what he wants from his players and he really studies the game inside out.” Gardner added.
“He makes his players feel that they are the best and that’s what you want from a manager.”
Joint top goal-scorer Gardner fell victim of his own wholehearted style of play when he picked up his 10th yellow card of the season early in the game against the Blues.
As a result he will now miss Sunderland’s next two fixtures – the Tyne-Wear derby and a home game with Everton.
“I’m absolutely gutted to miss the next two games.” Gardner confessed.
“I hope the lads can go out and get the results we need – I’ll be watching from wherever I can – the changing room, the tunnel – I’d be out there on the touchline if I could be.
“The team need to keep going and perform like we did in the first half against Chelsea in the upcoming games. We know were more than capable of that.
“I’ll be roaring Sunderland on next week.”