Sometimes I'll be in the middle of a task and completely forget what I'm doing and/or why I'm doing it. In these acutely distressing moments, I'll retrace the steps of my thought process to unearth the method behind my madness. It's a technique which I think Sunderland fans would benefit from as we start to grow more impatient with our somewhat impotent playing style.
Inheriting the dressing room of O'Neill and Di Canio, Poyet was already at a disadvantage, but inheriting the training pitch set him back even further. Fans had grown desperately tired of MON's hoof and hope, play on the break philosophy. It was a similar brand of anti-football which we've grown familiar of complaining about when deployed by Pulis or Allardyce, only those two seem to have found a way to succeed from it somewhat. We never really did. Di Canio's football, contrastingly, was positively brand-less. It was unclear whether he intended for players to be left to their own devices, or simply left them bemused as to what he actually wanted them to do. For such a self-admitted disciplinarian, we lacked organisation, drive and cohesion.
As fans we must retrace the steps of our thought process and remember that the patient, timid build-up play we see under Poyet is infinitely less frustrating than kicking the ball as far as we can and expecting Steven Fletcher or Danny Graham to somehow find a way to kick it in the goal. Fair enough, we aren't benefiting from it greatly at the moment, we're not banging in goals for fun, but just a season after Gus was employed to pick up the pieces of a broken club, can you really expect much more than what we have already achieved this season? The possession game is a slowly coached labour of love, the fact that we have already found success to a moderate standard is a victory in itself given that we are still weak in certain areas of the pitch.
We are lacking key, game-changing individuals who would be better suited to our system than some of the personnel at our disposal, but unfortunately those types of players simply would not join a team who spent 90-95% of last season in the bottom three. The summer window just passed was solid, but very much a transitional window, just like this season is a transitional season, one where we find a brand of football which admittedly won't win us a massive amount of games, but will see us tight enough defensively and patient enough in possession to prevent a great number of defeats.
Take Tuesday night against Stoke for example, I'd argue it was a fairly even display with Stoke snatching the win due to two good finishes. Neither of the goals were clear cut chances and forgive me if I'm being harsh, but I think that Mannone would have stopped both of them. It's never great going out of the cup at home, but considering that we made 7 changes to our starting lineup and were facing a next to full strength Stoke team, who are regarded as a better team than ours, it wasn't a huge shock that we went out. If we were to put last season's second string out for a cup match, boasting the likes of Carlos Cuellar and Andrea Dossena, can you honestly say that we'd have kept it down to 2-1? Absolutely not, and the fact that our second stringers looked more than competent for spells of the match is a testament to how we have strengthened the squad this summer, albeit if we ultimately did fall short in the end.
Poyet is building for the long term here. He could have went out and spent £16m on a striker, we did have the money for that. Admittedly, it might have made us a bit happier in the short term, having a shiny new toy to play with, but for all those types of players might win you games occasionally, they won't keep you in the league. This season is about consolidation, and probably the first time in a while that we have went out with that in mind.
We need a creative centre midfielder. We need a star striker. We need a pacey centre back. We need all of these things, but for now we have invested in sturdy players to deploy in a sturdy system that will see us through until the end of December, and then through to May, and that's all we need to do at this point as a club. Next season though, I want that £16m striker.