Sunderland's January signings were key to survival - Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce says that Sunderland's January signings were crucial in helping the club avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Sunderland beat Everton 3-0 on Wednesday evening to secure their Premier League status for another year and condemn Newcastle United and Norwich City to relegation, and Allardyce could hardly contain his delight.
"It's been a long few days from Saturday [a 3-2 win over Chelsea], because it's in your hands for the first time," Allardyce told Sky Sports. "Everyone wanted us to perform like we did against Chelsea and actually we did it better.
"If you look back at November, Everton 6-2 Sunderland, it shows how far we've come."
Allardyce's side have never been higher than 17th in the table this season, but defensive midfielder Jan Kirchhoff, defender Lamine Kone and attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri have transformed the team since their arrival on Wearside in January.
"We got some players in in January and we turned into a team from January onwards," Allardyce added. "We became difficult to beat, a team that didn't like losing again, and we continued this run through the last 10 games or so.
"The financial side [of staying up], what that gives us in terms of spending is the same for everyone, so it's how wisely we spend it and what we do.
"I think the contribution of the players we got in in January has been really big and the next set of recruitment is crucial to make sure the club isn't cheering a lap of honour to be staying up again.
"The draws eventually led to wins, and that led us to getting safe with one game to go.
"It was pretty miraculous -- there was no way I wanted to go to Watford [on Sunday] needing anything!"
Sunderland's survival means that next season will be their 10th successive year of top-flight football.
Striker Jermain Defoe has scored 15 times this season to fire the Black Cats to safety, and Allardyce was also quick to praise his striker,
"No, I don't think so,'' Allardyce said, when asked if the club would have stayed up without Defoe's goals. "But at the other end we couldn't have done it without Vito Mannone again today, the back four were solid. We're developing into a side that is difficult to break down.
"Jermain ended up winning us games and in the end that has got us safe."
And Defoe, who joined Sunderland from Toronto in January of 2015, spoke of his delight at how the season has gone for him.
"I've worked hard this season, kept myself fit and sharp, but I couldn't have done it without the lads," Defoe said. "I'm always confident if I get a chance I'll put them away.
"I don't know if you can hear me because of the atmosphere. The fans won us the game against Chelsea [on Saturday] and that's happened tonight as well. They drag the team on, it's unbelievable and to stay up again, I'm delighted.
"It's unbelievable, if you look at the great teams it's all about team spirit and togetherness. The main thing is team spirit -- the lads are unbelievable, it is fantastic."