Midfielder Sebastian Larsson has credited Martin O'Neill's unique style of management for Sunderland's impressive improvement in form.
Larsson admits O'Neill has won the respect of the dressing room with his 'clever' approach and confidence is now high at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland have won five from the last seven, losing only to title-chasing Tottenham at White Hart Lane, with a notable last-gasp victory against Manchester City.
"He (O'Neill) puts little things into your head in a very, very clever way," Larsson told The Independent.
"It's hard to remember an actual example but he might joke about something and everyone is laughing and then you go home and you sit down and you go: 'Hold on a second, there was something in there which was a serious bit.'
"He put that across in a way so you don't forget. He puts little thoughts in your head and he knows they're going to stick."
Sunderland have gone from strength to strength following Steve Bruce's sacking and Larsson said this is mainly down to his new boss.
"He told us straight away we were more than capable of climbing the table, and that we have a good enough squad to do that," Larsson said.
"Of course, we're playing a lot better. We're more confident as a team and with that you play better.
"If it's a game that is tight with 10 minutes to go, rather than worrying about losing the game, we are now like: 'Come on, we can win this'.
"After we have won games, you see how much it means to him in the dressing room. He has been right in the middle of the celebrating.
"That is brilliant, of course, when you see what it means to your manager. He is all hugs then."
Sunderland next face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge but the Sweden international is positive they can come back with a positive result.
"Of course, Chelsea have exceptional talent. With the players they have, it will never be an easy place to go. If we play to our best, you never know. We will go into the game with confidence," he added.
"We are capable of getting something, but at the same time, if we don't play to our best, we're in for a hard afternoon."