David Moyes has never struck me as a particularly charismatic or inspirational person, and having listened to him for a couple of months now, it’s hard to say that he inspires any confidence. And I doubt that I’m alone in that.
When Moyes first joined the club, he stressed that "we need to make sure it isn’t us celebrating staying up."
"That can’t be the goal. It’s not my goal for sure," he said. Yet a month later, he was warning us that we should be expecting to battle relegation again. There’s also a fine line between confidence and delusion, but to me, that doesn’t send the right message to the players or the fans, particularly after just the second game of the season. Nobody expects us to push for Europe or to challenge the top ten – they’re unrealistic expectations. But we shouldn’t be dealing with another relegation fight. Or at least that’s not the message that Moyes should be presenting publicly.
Speaking to 5 Live after Sunday's game, Moyes stressed that we can’t compete with Spurs, and looking at the performance you’d probably have to agree with him. But the fact is that we didn’t even give it a go. I didn’t expect us to bombard Spurs and throw everything at them, but there was no ambition in that performance. Our greatest strength, and I’m using that word loosely, is counter-attacking, but we didn’t even give ourselves the chance to do that.
Moyes’ apparent negative attitude and general lack of enthusiasm is being reflected on the pitch. He seemed content to get out of London with a 1-0 defeat, but you could argue that we created the best chance of the match when Steven Pienaar failed to score from close range. Duncan Watmore’s run behind and square ball across goal, that Jermain Defoe didn’t bother to attack, suggests that we could have caused them a few more problems. And that game wasn't a one off.
Compare that to Watford, who outplayed Manchester United to win 3-1 on Sunday. The game-changing Juan Camilo Zúñiga has praised manager Walter Mazzarri for his approach to the game. He said: "We don’t need to look at the name on the shirts against Manchester United or Chelsea or Arsenal, we just try and do our best. That is what the manager wants, he wants a winning mentality where we go on to the pitch we don’t ever look at the name on the back of the shirt, we do our job the best we can and that is the manager’s opinion on how to play football."
As I wrote earlier, there’s a fine line between confidence and delusion, but is saying that we aren’t good enough the right thing to do? Some may see it as honesty – maybe we aren’t good enough. But then we also have to ask why we aren’t, which is another issue altogether. The manager’s negative play and odd transfer dealings have certainly not helped things.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on Moyes. We have had a tricky start and he has had to contend with a number of injuries. But whether it’s hypocritical or not, the manner in which a team loses is examined far more than the manner in which a team wins, and so far we’ve seen very little from Sunderland. You could argue that individual errors in defence have cost us, and while that’s correct, I’d suggest that trying to defend for a full game is eventually going to crack a player’s concentration levels – we’ve been playing too deep and inviting too much pressure.
The next three league games will give us a greater indication as to where we are at as a football team. Crystal Palace and West Brom at home, along with Stoke away, should provide us with a better chance of picking up a first win of the season. Nonetheless, neither David Moyes nor his side have been encouraging thus far. There's still plenty of time left in the season - we should know that more than any other set of fans. But it's hardly been an inspiring start from our new manager.