Victor Anichebe hits the post, Billy Jones slips and Marc Albrighton finds Jamie Vardy. When you’re not doing well, you need a slice of luck.
You make your own luck though. It could be a ball deflecting in off Danny Graham’s arse. Or Cesar Azpilicueta being pressed into slipping and allowing you the chance to win a penalty at Stamford Bridge. Perhaps it could even be a fairly tame Fabio Borini shot deflecting in via John Terry. All instances of Sunderland’s recent past where they kept going and got the luck they needed. It was luck they deserved but now they deserve nothing. This manager deserves nothing and this board deserve nothing. Sunderland have been mismanaged into the second tier, while the supporters are told it’s all in the name of stability.
What is stable about David Moyes though? Sunderland swung in cross after cross against Leicester, despite playing 70 minutes with their main aerial threat being their right back. What kind of instruction is that from a manager who has the most secure job in English football? Every time Sunderland got the ball in a dangerous area, they were instructed to play wide, rather than try and release the pace of Jermain Defoe through the middle. Defoe, a player who would surely have the beating of Robert Huth when it comes to a sprint, was left forlorn, frustrated and floundering, and his first half snap shot revealed his frustration.
Sunderland pressed high up the field in the first half but apart from when they won a corner, looked lost as to what to do with it. Jack Rodwell put in a shift and made some pleasing tackles but was often ponderous in possession. The classy nature of Didier Ndong was on display but that only made his recent stint on the bench all the more infuriating. The return of Lee Cattermole may have been why Sunderland looked more intense in the midfield but even him, a player who knows all about a Black Cat escape, could only speak of pride rather than a revival, after the game.
Along with Cattermole, Victor Anichebe returned as a substitute, which some fans may take solace from, given he was a key element of Sunderland’s one good run of form this campaign. It’s difficult to envisage though, since the other key components of that run have either been sold, are injured or haven’t been replaced.
Back in November/early December, Sunderland had Anichebe holding things up and Defoe’s goal threat, but there was also had Duncan Watmore chasing things down and being an all round menace with his pace, while Patrick van Aanholt linked up superbly with Big Vic. Neither player is perfect but Watmore certainly added something to the side, as opposed to the anonymity of Fabio Borini and Van Aanholt gave an attacking outlet that Bryan Oviedo has failed to deliver.
Yet Moyes still persists with a 4-3-3 (or variation of) despite losing the tools that made it work. Like a builder trying to knock down a wall with a spirit level.
The sheer refusal to even try the 3-5-1-1 system, which was the one used when Sunderland last scored a goal, highlights the incompetence and fear in the manager. Risks need to be taken, I don’t care if he doesn’t think his available centre halves are good enough, they’re hardly doing an effective job now. We can’t even try and “respect the point” as Sam Allardyce used to say, we need to win games and the system Moyes is persisting with, is clearly getting us no where near the haven of 17th.
If you don’t believe that Moyes has fear in his eyes, then look at inability to make a substitution to keep Sunderland in control. Craig Shakespeare introduced Islam Slimani & Marc Albrighton and it changed the game. It won the game. Moyes dallied and second guessed himself, as Anichebe warmed up for a lifetime, before being brought on when we were already behind. And why not bring on Khazri while you’re at it because we all know he isn’t allowed to play when we may have a chance of winning.
There was a point during the first half, where I thought “we look like we could nick this but does really matter? It won’t make a difference” which is reflects the attitude of Moyes. Past managers, such as the ones who were in charge during our recent survival campaigns, kept me believing. David Moyes does not and how can that change in The Championship, where we can’t be the scrappy underdogs but have to approach games with confidence? If that’s how supporters feel then how can the players believe in him? Especially when they’re told they’re in relegation battles, new players won’t improve the team and they’re all not good enough anyway.
That doesn’t sound like the start of a rebuilding job or stability, it sounds like the beginning of a very dark period where things just keep getting worse.
For Sunderland, this season is over and they’re just awaiting the final curtain before being hauled off the stage. They’re going on a journey and maybe it’s a one through the wilderness. I just hope David Moyes isn’t accompanying them.