Wise Men Say: Palace Loss Could Lead To Uncomfortable Questions

Clint Hughes

A week of darkness and woe followed one of the best in my recent life. I guess that's what you get for supporting Sunderland. But after Gus's comments after Sunday, has he set himself up for a fall if we fail to win on Saturday?

It's been a bit of a crazy spell, and we don't quite know what to make of it all in the Wise Men Say studio. The defeat to Hull City on Sunday lead to a string of disappointing tweets, a lot of message board venting and some general foot stamping all around. I was one of them. To say I was annoyed that we missed out on another trip to Wembley was an understatement. I was mortified.

In the aftermath, Gus made some interesting comments. The crooks of it appeared to be if you criticised his team selection, then you haven't got a clue. Now you can only take what you see to form an opinion. Yes, it transpired that we had players who were unavailable through injury, illness etc. At the same time though, Poyet elected to field players like Andrea Dossena, Nacho Scocco and Stephen Fletcher whilst dropping Adam Johnson and Fabio Borini. To me, that suggests he wasn't willing to risk his best available eleven. I know some these so called squad players need games. But was Sunday the day to give these guys game time for fitness and form? If Scocco is nowhere near ready for the rigours of the league, then why take a chance on him in January? Steven Fletcher - meh?

It's easy to be critical after the event. If the team had won the game then there'd have been a lot of praise for the manager and players, obviously. But we didn't, and that leads to uncomfortable questions and discussions about the logic behind Sunday's decisions in general. I fear that against Crystal Palace on Saturday, if we fail to win, then there'll be further uncomfortable discussions and then some.

Now don't get me wrong here. I love Gus Poyet. I think he's been absolutely superb. At the same time, if he does something I don't like, I'm going to moan about it.

Our problems in the league seem to be reflected in the type of game that presents itself to us on Saturday. A team on a similar level to our own, at home. The games you have to win, but we just can't seem to do the job. All too often have we seen teams sit deep at the Stadium of Light, finding ourselves struggling to break down well organised units. I fear against Palace it could be more of the same.

This would be a massive blow to our potential survival. It could be argued that we sacrificed the FA Cup for the benefit of said survival and should the elected first team fail to win a 'must win' once more, then people will be wondering what that team at Hull was all about. It opens the door for some pretty difficult questioning for Gus. In a way he's created a bit more pressure around the match.

Hopefully, with our one week on and one week off performance policy, we're due a result and performance. We can't afford to underestimate this Pulis team though. They've shown fantastic grit and organisation to get themselves into a decent position going into the run in. Write them off at your peril.

I've got a feeling it could be a frustrating afternoon...

We'll talk about all of that and more on Thursday's latest edition of Wise Men Say. We're joined on the phone by Roker Report's Nick Holden. He's making his WMS début. In the studio with us we'll have the insatiable Luke Ball (Son of Bally) and on the phone giving us some Palace craic is Jim Daly, comedian and uber-contributor to the lovely Five Year Plan fanzine.

Do join us. You can subscribe on iTunes here or come back to Roker Report on Friday for some hot Soundcloud action.

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