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Burnley Clash Could Provide Poyet's Sunderland Crossroads

Gus Poyet could be on the verge of a crossroads in his time as Sunderland coach, and a little bit of positivity could be his only hope of picking the right path, writes James Holmes.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

So this weekend Sunderland go into their first real "must win" of the campaign.

The Burnley game has now become a game which could genuinely shape the rest of the season and Gus' tenure here at the Stadium of Light. Lose, and it could quickly become a Steve Bruce vs Wigan Scenario. Win, and it could give us some confidence going into some very important home fixtures vs QPR, West Brom and Aston Villa.

Back in October, Sunderland were embarrassingly poor away at Southampton. With hindsight, you wonder if many of us underestimated the effect this had on Gus and, whichever way you look at i,t had a massive effect on his confidence to pick an attacking line-up. Ultimately, this could become his downfall unless he takes a few risks.

Last weekend against Fulham was a completely dour affair. The inability to string a series of passes together became more and more frustrating for both the freezing supporters and the players on the field. The sending off of Jack Rodwell did not help the situation, and it came as Sunderland were having a brighter spell in the game. However, to play what felt like a back 6 against a championship side was simply unacceptable.

We were accused by Poyet in the week of 'living in the Past'. Personally I'm not having that. Yes the partnership of Quinn and Phillips was immensely enjoyable to watch but we hardly glorify those two 7th place finishes. To me, the reason those two seasons were so enjoyable were that the players played with desire and urgency. Something which the current side, excusing Lee Cattermole and possibly Seb Larsson, do not demonstrate.

Be it a 5-3-2, 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or a 3-2-3-2, the side Gus picks on Saturday may be his most important of his time here. I for one would firstly like to see our creative players on the pitch, Giaccherini and Alvarez have not played a part this season and they have to be given a chance.

Not only as they are more likely to create, but to also lessen the huge burden currently on Adam Johnson. Poyet needs to take a risk and play his more imaginative players - even if this does leave us more exposed at the back.

One thing is for sure: by 5pm on Saturday afternoon we will have a much clearer view on whether or not Gustavo Poyet will, or can, remain in charge of Sunderland.

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