Team Selection: Right To Drop Borini
It was interesting to hear David Moyes note in the aftermath of the 2-0 cup defeat to Burnley that there are several players in the squad who could do with some time away from the starting line-up.
The players that are out there I expect to play better, I don't expect them to make a couple of mistakes, but if I had other players, maybe I could take some players out and put somebody else in. I could do something different with it and let them know -- you're not getting away with that. At the moment I can't do that. I've tried not to use it in any way as an excuse but it's a fact, we're short, we're finding it a struggle, we're putting near enough the same players out.
Moyes decided to make a statement this weekend, however, and swapped the lively George Honemyan in for the petulant Fabio Borini who has done little to inspire any kind of confidence in recent weeks. Honeyman gave another solid display, and might have done enough to perhaps persuade Moyes to offer other youngsters a chance to prove their worth should we continue to be so silent in the transfer market.
The rest of the squad really picked itself, and there was honestly very little else Moyes could have done to alter the situation. Perhaps giving Seb Larsson or Adnan Januzaj a rest might be worth a shot? Neither looked particularly effective, and the enthusiasm of Elliot Embleton or Ethan Robson might be worth another calculated gamble provided we carry on the season with such a threadbare squad.
Tom's rating: 6/10 - Dropping Borini was a brave decision, and George Honeyman has certainly given the boss food for thought. However, securing reinforcements is a huge must considering how uninterested certain players look.
Tactics: Changes Couldn’t Prevent Mistakes
For a more in-depth analysis of Saturday’s tactics, I highly suggest you give Rory Fallow’s, Talking Tactics, a quick read, it’s certainly worth your time. As Rory noted, despite trying to combat Salomon Rondon’s presence with a three man defence Sunderland were still unable to prevent silly mistakes from creeping into their general play. No matter how much we alter our shape and line-up: a lack of intelligent decision-making and concentration will always hurt you.
It’s incredibly frustrating when basic duties are shirked; on multiple occasions Sunderland were guilty of over-committing and being dragged out of position, suggesting a lack of trust in the squad’s general ability to perform simple tasks. Something is wrong off the field if the players cannot perform their given roles on it. Hopefully the returning AFCON trio can bring some stability back to the squad.
Moyes isn’t totally to blame, however, and in some ways deserves credit for trying something fresh. Ultimately his decisions didn’t reap any points, and unless he can find a way to provide Jermain Defoe with effective service, the team will continue to stutter.
The only real positive to find was the inclusion of George Honeyman whose statistics were impressive for such an inexperienced Premier League player. Plenty of good passing, more tackles attempted than anyone else on the pitch and a general enthusiasm that was a welcome relief. Why did it take us this long to realize he’d be a good addition?
Tom's rating: 5/10 - We tried, but we just weren’t good enough. Here’s hoping that the Beekeeper can continue to improve.
Substitutions: Anichebe... Why?
Moyes seems to be rather reluctant to alter things until after 60 minutes have passed. It’s a conservative approach, and often leaves players little time to really have an impact on the game - especially when you consider how poor the last several games have been in terms of energy and animation.
That being said, risking the recently returned Victor Anichebe was a fool’s gamble. You can understand the thinking, but surely Moyes knows how risky it is to throw such an injury-prone player into a game especially when said player has just returned from an injury? Ultimately it was another roll of the dice that just didn’t work.
There’s no news on how serious Anichebe’s injury is, but anything to do with a knee is problematic to say the least. Here’s hoping that Big Vic can return to the squad sooner rather than later.
Furthermore, throwing Borini on with around 15 minutes to go wasn’t a particularly inspiring move, especially after recent displays. But then again, what else can he really do? Asoro is very young to be throwing into such a pressure-filled situation - remember he’s just 17. As I’ve already mentioned, surely it’s time to see if some of the other, more experienced youngsters can add anything to a flailing side.
Tom's rating: 2/10 - Poor from Moyes, but in all reality he has very little to work with.
Moyes gave us the same old triple unfortunately, and his communication with the press is something that leaves a lot to be desired.
There were some good things in the game, but ultimately we gave away two poor goals.
We weren’t tight enough on the corner and our defenders were taken out of the game very easily and it was a wonderful strike to beat us.
We played well at times in the first half and much better in the second, but the goals cloud a lot of that and when you lose a game that’s what gets talked about.
We weren’t strong enough; we need to stop conceding the way we have been. I think we’re missing Lamine Kone, he offers us a bit more strength.
George [Honeyman] was our best player; he deserved to keep his place after doing well against Burnley in the week. Having Victor [Anichebe] back was a big positive for us.
We’ve got over a week until our next game now, hopefully that will let us get some more players back in training, we need it.
I’m afraid the wishy-washy comments just aren’t good enough, we want to see and hear some passion from the man. We need to hear him tell us it isn’t good enough; that we need to be better in general. We don’t want to hear the timid old decent, but not decent enough spiel.
I get the feeling that the half-baked displays on the field are a reciprocation of David Moyes’ passiveness in his reactions. Sometimes it feels as though Moyes just isn’t bold enough in what he does and what he says; he’s not that negative, but at the same time he isn’t very positive either. He exists in this emotional purgatory that doesn’t really upset many people, but doesn’t stimulate us either. Ha’way man, Dave, give us some enthusiasm.
Tom's Rating: 3/10 - Blood, thunder, sweat, tears - anything other than bland apathy please, Moyesy!