clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Currently Sunderland are going down without a fight, so why not go for it?

New, comments

If we are going to be relegated we might as well go down swinging.

Sunderland v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

There's no two ways about it - Sunderland, right now, are going down without a fight.

David Moyes looks just as uninspired as his tactics, whilst the players on the pitch lack fight and look like a group that aren't exactly sure what exactly is required of them.

It would be unfair to say that all of these players lack quality, because we know that just isn't the case. There are plenty of teams in the Premier League that would absolutely love to have the likes of Jermain Defoe, Adnan Januzaj, Lamine Kone, Didier Ndong and Jordan Pickford as part of their squad - it's simply about motivating and organising them in a way which gets the best from them.

Whilst David Moyes' comments on 'Britishness' caused wide-spread hilarity it distracted somewhat from a key issue which has been bugging many Sunderland supporters for some time now - our manager favours graft over flair when, ultimately, focusing on just being hard to beat is one of the key reasons why we find ourselves at the bottom of the Premier League, without a goal in our last four games. Sometimes, you just have to roll the dice.

You have to be prepared to take risks if you are going to be more than just a team that squanders their top-flight status without as much of a whimper. Setting up for a defensive battle when (an admittedly solid and organised) Burnley come to town is an admission that you're afraid to take risks.

Burnley are not a side to be feared, but they are a side that we should respect. They are where they are because they know who they are and their players know exactly what their role in the side is - it's a relatively simple concept but it is one which has brought them the results that will more than likely keep them in the Premier League.

That said, their poor away form this season should have given us cause for optimism, and it was a chance for Sunderland to show the rest of the league that we aren't here just to make up the numbers. Instead, Moyes opted to drop our most energetic and driven midfielder in Didier Ndong, whilst any potential of Wahbi Khazri's impact was restricted as he was given only a fraction of game time from the bench.

It was the biggest indication yet that David Moyes has, to this point, been unwilling to throw everything that he has at this relegation battle. With the points there for the taking he opted to play it safe and, whilst a point and a clean sheet seems acceptable in theory, it isn't good enough. We needed to make sure that we won that game, and we didn't.

Still though, hope is not entirely lost.

Watford this weekend present us with an interesting opportunity. The Hornets are one of the sides in the top flight this season that seem to have gone about their business without any fuss, and whilst it would be fair to say that they have enjoyed a rather comfortable campaign thus far, they haven't exactly lit up the division as of late. They have won just three of their last 15 Premier League games and are sat on 31 points, meaning their safety isn't quite guaranteed just yet.

This is a chance to turn our season completely on it's head. If we are going to stand any chance of going on a run of winning games, it has to start on Saturday. And for me, David Moyes needs a complete change in his approach and attitude towards our remaining fixtures.

Whatever it is that he's trying right now just isn't working - we aren't scoring. Jermain Defoe is one of the best goalscorers in this division and we aren't getting the ball to him or creating anywhere near enough chances. Our midfield is pedestrian at best and there's a massive gap between our attack and defence that is crying our for someone to step in and link up play.

Nobody needs to be reminded of how important Wahbi Khazri was in our run towards survival last season, and whilst it's abundantly clear that Moyes doesn't particularly like him, we need an injection of something different in order to at least try and turn things around. When we signed the Tunisian from Bordeaux last year, he was second only to Angel Di Maria in the Ligue 1 assist table. This is a player to whom creating chances comes naturally. And of course, he's going to make mistakes and lose you the ball, because unless you're talking about Eden Hazard or Lionel Messi you won't find many other playmakers that are able to retain possession when their primary job in the side is to provide the forwards with opportunities.

I'm not saying he's the answer, but it's definitely worth rolling the dice to see if changing our system and shape to include Khazri will make a difference to our results going forward.

Even when playing with a middle three we are struggling for goals and struggling to keep them out at the other end, so I honestly don't know why we wouldn't at least have a go at playing with a number ten - whether that is Khazri or Adnan Januzaj, who is also adept in that role.

It might seem like a desperate last attempt but this is all that we have left. In an ideal situation we'll get Victor Anichebe and Lee Cattermole back in the side and their impact will be enough to drag us over the line, but for now we have to work with what we've got. The bare minimum we should be doing is setting up in a way that gets the best from the players, and instills them with the faith that they are able to achieve results between now and the end of the season.

The ball, as always, is firmly in David Moyes' court. He's a conservative manager but sometimes you've just got to take some risks in order to improve your fortunes.

Will he do it? I'm not holding my breath.