London - Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat has blamed his team's poor start to the season on failing to secure new players early enough in the transfer window.
They make the long trip to Bournemouth on Saturday without a win from their opening five league games and with only north-east rivals Newcastle United below them in the table.
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"Everybody has to realise that we have had a really, really difficult time because we brought players in late," said the experienced Dutch coach.
"So we need more time for them to gel with each other more than normal.
"If we had started with this squad in the beginning, then everything would have been much easier than now."
As it is, Advocaat is prioritising a first victory, no matter how it comes.
"I have always said it doesn't matter how you play, I always go for three points. It doesn't matter how," he added.
American defender DeAndre Yedlin is back in the squad along with Adam Johnson, who has not played since dislocating a shoulder during the opening week of the season.
"If we need him, we could bring him in," Advocaat said of the former England winger. "He can change a game. But physical-wise, he is not 100 per cent, not to play for 90 minutes."
One Sunderland player guaranteed a warm reception on the south coast is striker Jermain Defoe.
Loaned to Bournemouth as a teenager by West Ham, he scored in 10 consecutive games, equalling a post-war English record, and finished with 19 goals in 31 matches.
"He is the best finisher I've ever seen," said Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, who was a player there at the time. "We will have to keep him quiet."