As you would expect, with such a poor start to the season, we all have an opinion as to where it is all going wrong for Sunderland and what should be done to improve results. Just browsing social media and message boards the morning after the West Brom debacle shows just how much we all care about what is going on at our beloved club.
For what it's worth, the last thing I want is for Di Canio to get the sack. It's still far too early in the season for that level of panic, and change now would only create more chaos at the club. However, I do think he needs to get his act together soon, before we are cut adrift at the bottom.
I can't help thinking that we are paying for a lack of pre-season games at the moment. Results of pre-season friendlies are meaningless but Di Canio's own comment that "the team aren't gelling" shows just why they are needed. Three, four or five changes every match isn't going to help. Some of the changes may have been enforced but the constant changes to the central midfield are worrying. We've all by now realised that he doesn't rate Cabral, he looks almost as far from the first team as Bardsley, but his seeming rotation of Larsson, Gardner and Vaughan is baffling. Don't get me wrong, I don't rate any of them, but Di Canio falls in and out of love with them at the drop of a hat. For instance, he has called Larsson one of the best players in the league in the past. Despite that comment he wasn't even in the squad for the vital game at the Hawthorns. A similar thing could be said about Vaughan. He was flavour of the month not so long ago and he was nowhere to be seen at West Brom either.
A settled central midfield is vital if we are to turn things around anytime soon. Hopefully the return of Lee Cattermole can only help that happen. If Di Canio is going to persist with 4-4-2 then surely Ki and Cattermole are the pairing he is looking to. All other midfielders at the club look inferior to those two.
Speaking of 4-4-2, that's my next gripe. I have nothing against that formation, I just wish we didn't have to stick so rigidly with it. We have the players to do something different and have had long before Di Canio came to the club. Back in January O'Neill switched to 4-3-3 for the game at Wigan, and the first half was arguably the best half of football that we played all season. He played Fletcher up front with Johnson and Sessegnon either side of him. Sessegnon and Johnson seemed to thrive in that formation and I always thought it was the formation set up to get the best out of Sessegnon. Maybe O'Neill used it that day to trouble Wigan's three at the back, but it worked so well I could never understand why he went straight back to 4-4-1-1 and never tried it again. I've even questioned whether it happened by accident. It looks like Di Canio will always stick with 4-4-2 and I accept that most coaches have a certain way they like to play. The top coaches, however, can adapt to different situations.
I hope at some point Di Canio has the courage to try 4-3-3. Although Sessegnon has departed we now have Giaccherini. I was as excited as anyone when we signed him but I just don't see him fitting into a 4-4-2. He doesn't look anything like a left winger to me but I am happy to be proved wrong. I would love to see him get the chance to play as part of a front three but I won't hold my breath. If we are to keep going with 4-4-2 then Mavrias looks the better bet to play on the wing for me. It would also be nice to see the wide men swap occasionally, just to try something else. Everybody looks like they have to stick so rigidly to there positions, the opposition never have to worry about us doing something out of the ordinary.
The cup game at home to Peterbrough on Tuesday night looks much more vital than it did when the draw was made. If Di Canio isn't feeling the pressure now he will if we lose that one. I really hope he turns it around, whatever formation or tactics he uses. As long as Sunderland start winning some time soon, I don't care how he does it.