The Black Cats boss has monitored the work-rate of some of the Premier Leagues leading midfielders, and set his own players demanding targets to match them.
The likes of Andy Reid and Steed Malbranque have been ordered to increase the amount of running they were doing in the early stages of the season, while Sunderlands coaching staff have been instructed to improve the overall stamina of the squad.
The effect of their efforts was apparent on Saturday, as Sunderland staged a spirited comeback against West Ham despite being reduced to ten men, and while the clubs midfield ranks will be depleted at Tottenham this weekend, each player will be running themselves into the ground.
The gaffer has shown us the stats of international players like (Steven) Gerrard and (Frank) Lampard, said Jordan Henderson. Even though they are on the ball quite often, their work-rate is phenomenal.
They are covering between 12-13km in every game, and that is what every player at this club has to be aiming to do. We need to be taking a leaf out of the book of players like that, and I certainly want to emulate that sort of player.
Hendersons performance could be crucial at White Hart Lane this weekend as Sunderland look to overcome the absence of the suspended Lorik Cana and the injured Lee Cattermole.
With Bolo Zenden and Fraizer Campbell facing a race against time as they attempt to prove their fitness, Henderson is one of the few Black Cats midfielders currently guaranteed to be available to face Spurs.
The 19-year-old has come on in leaps and bounds in recent weeks, but last weekends appearance against the Hammers was still only the third senior start of his career.
Nevertheless, Wearsideborn Henderson is relishing his elevation to the first-team ranks and is determined to fill the gap that Cattermoles injury has created.
Obviously Catts is a great player, and his boots are big ones to fill, he said.
But Ive given it my best and played the best I can. Im striving to repay the gaffer for the faith hes shown in me.
Im loving every minute at the moment, and loving playing my football. Im working hard every day because I want to make the most of the chance Ive been given.
That chance has come at the heart of midfield, and while Henderson made the majority of his youth and reserve- team appearances on the right, he boasts experience of a more central role.
When I was really young, I played in the centre of midfield.
he said. But as I got older, I went out to the right. I played there through the Under-18s, and also when I went on loan to Coventry (last season).
But since I came back here in pre-season, Ive played in the centre of midfield and really enjoyed it. You get more involved in the game. You get more chances to show what you can do and Im enjoying playing there at the minute.
While Henderson is a product of Sunderlands Academy, a player brought in from elsewhere is the subject of a Premier League investigation.
Brentford and Charlton have questioned the details of Michael Turners transfer from Hull as they are due a percentage of the fee in a sellon clause.
At the time, both Hull and the Black Cats opted not to disclose the settlement, but new Tigers chief Adam Pearson has spelled out the details of the deal, which make impressive reading on the part of the Wearsiders.
Sunderland paid £4m for Turner a fee paid in a single installment and did not include future add-ons and received £500,000 for the transfer of Paul McShane in the opposite direction.
Despite having earlier valued Turner at £12m, Hull pocketed just £2.8m as they were forced to pay £1.2m to his former employers.
The cash generated from the deal is £2.8m, confirmed Pearson. And in light of what weve been spending on players, I would tend to suggest thats a disappointing return.
With hindsight, Im not sure that August 31 was the best time to sell Michael Turner, and certainly not at that price.