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Quick Kicks: McNair Should Start On Saturday

Sunderland won their second game of the season in the EFL Cup last night against QPR, and Paddy McNair's two goals which won the game for his side means he comes into contention to start against Crystal Palace at the weekend.

Warren Little/Getty Images

I said in my preview that I hoped David Moyes would set out his team to be more positive and, having won the game with two delightful goals from Paddy McNair, the manager was pleased that his new-look shape ensured his side won the game.

Speaking in his post-match email, Moyes said:

I thought we did some good things tonight, especially in the second half. I didn't think we deserved to go a goal down when we did.

We just lacked the experienced forward players tonight who maybe could have finished the game off earlier, but some of our play was good. When we went a goal down we needed to get ourselves back in the game. As I said, we didn't deserve to go behind. Their goalkeeper made two great saves in the first half.

We played some good stuff and I'm just glad we got through as it's always a tough game coming here.

I'm pleased for Paddy McNair because it's been a slow burner for him. He can score a goal - he has history and used to play as a number 10 as a boy before dropping back eventually.

He's technically very good and connects with and strikes the ball very well. When we went a goal down we didn't look like scoring – we had opportunities but nothing was going in.

We changed things around and Paddy got a couple of goals for us coming in off the left. Didier [Ndong] was great on the right. We played him a bit wider tonight and he did very well.

[On Saturday] we need to play better than we have been and go into the game with confidence. It feels good to win, so we'll build on that and take it into the game on Saturday.

Obviously, with Duncan Watmore leading the line in the absence of Jermain Defoe, it completely changes the style that the team around him play. Where Defoe will try and play off the shoulder of the last defender, Watmore is a hard worker that makes runs beyond his team mates and, when you struggle to break teams down like we do, it can be a real asset to have someone breaking away at pace. Though I'm not advocating that Sunderland start playing 4-4-2, Moyes himself alluded to the change in shape turning the game in our favour. It's something to fall back on in other games if our plan A isn't working.

Being more structured and trying to set our team out to go wider might be old fashioned but having seen Sunderland struggle playing a 4-3-2-1 system this season I'm all for Moyes trying something new. Whether we play in a similar fashion at the weekend is another thing - clearly though, there are plenty of positives to take from this result.

With Sunderland lacking genuine wide-players it's interesting that Dider Ndong was given a role on the right hand side last night. It's pleasing to hear Moyes say that he played well and, as you can see from Paddy McNair's second goal of the evening, it was some great work from Ndong which led to it.

You have to be fair to Paddy McNair - both of his goals last night were superb when you look at how they were worked.

His first came after a neat one-two with Duncan Watmore, with McNair drifting in from the left hand side to start the move before finding his way into the area to finish it off - when was the last time a Sunderland midfielder played a pass and proactively made a bursting run into the box to receive it back in a dangerous position?

His second goal came after McNair himself started the move with a superb first-time pass which released Didier Ndong down the right hand side - though the Northern Ireland international had the ball on the plate, he still had to finish it and did so well.

Had Wahbi Khazri or Lynden Gooch scored two goals last night in that fashion we'd be talking them up and urging Moyes to put them into the starting eleven at the weekend - though his short Premier League career thus far as a Sunderland player has been somewhat disappointing, he has earned his place in the team against Crystal Palace.

One negative was that we failed to keep a clean sheet again, and the QPR goal came from a set piece. It was such an easy goal for the home side to score too - the ball was clipped back post to Joel Lynch, and as he towers over Didier Ndong to win the initial header you have to wonder why there was such a mismatch on the markups. Sandro was left in acres of space after John O'Shea failed to pick him up and, in fairness, he finished it well. The point remains though - we need to brush up on our defending at set pieces.

Coming from a goal behind to win away from home can only be a good thing too. It shows character.

The main thing was that we got the win, and that a player lacking in confidence scored two goals. Sunderland have to take the positivity of achieving a win into the Palace game and ensure that we don't allow ourselves to be negative in our style and our attitude. That goes for the fans too - we have to will them on and give the players the best chance of winning the game by getting behind them. It's been a tough start to the season as a fan but the only way we are going to get out of the mess we find ourselves in is by creating a positive atmosphere and giving the players a chance to be more expressive in their play, because as shown last night we do have players there that have genuine ability.

Here's hoping we get similar results at the weekend, albeit in a far more difficult game against tough opposition.

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