Team Selection: Injuries?
Sunderland lined up against Bournemouth with multiple injuries dealing a blow to Moyes’ plans at postponing relegation for just a little longer. Sunderland looked to line up with something resembling a 4-4-2, a bold move for Moyes, but one that ultimately failed to pay off. A host of midfield players were ruled out, leaving Moyes to place faith in Ndong and Pienaar to hold the middle of the pitch. As you would imagine, they tried their best, but just couldn’t dominate proceedings.
As a side note, rumours filled the internet in the wake of Moyes’ team selection suggesting several players had feigned injury in the run up to the game - a serious issue if true.
Ultimately, Moyes put a team out there that did show some fight, and that is worthy of a smattering of applause. Many have questioned his decision to refuse using young players into our current situation, and for that I think Moyes must be rightly applauded. Throwing the likes of Lynden Gooch and Elliot Embleton into such a potentially toxic atmosphere would do nothing to improve them as players, if anything it could even go so far as to damage their confidence which would subsequently hinder progression.
Tom’s Rating: 6/10 - Injuries have hurt our chances for a lot of this season, and again they struck this weekend. Moyes tried something new and hasn’t hurt any of the youngsters in recent weeks, so in all honesty I can’t be too critical.
It really was refreshing to see Moyes give 4-4-2 a go, and no one will argue that we didn’t look more dangerous. We couldn’t find that final killer ball, and we still looked very suspect in defense, but we certainly looked a lot more threatening on the front foot.
In our pre-match piece, we asked for Anichebe to be moved into a central position, and it certainly looked like he was asked to play as more of a central forward. However, Borini and Defoe did very little in terms of offering him an outlet - they both appeared to be devoid of confidence and quality, and that really hurt our chances. Khazri played fairly well, but again he just couldn’t find that extra piece of magic that we needed.
Defensively we still look very frail, and that’s something that must be addressed in the coming weeks. Love still looks very nervous, but grew into the game, I felt - he will be an important players next season and with our current injury crisis, he simply has to play. Hopefully he can embrace this opportunity and impress in the coming weeks.
If we didn’t lose so many midfielders to injuries, I would have liked to see Moyes go with 2 defensive midfielders, 2 strikers and Khazri floating around the pitch with another central player keeping the game moving. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see this, but due to our lack of quality out wide, it might be worth a punt if we get the chance to experiment.
Tom’s Rating: 4/10 - I want to mark this higher, but we’ve been calling out for change for weeks now, and we decide to mix things up once relegation is all but certain. That’s a kick in the teeth.
Just the one sub as George Honeyman was given a run out in place of Pienaar for the final 30 minutes or so. Honestly, Honeyman was canny and certainly his energy levels helped the team to find a new sense of vigour; unfortunately he couldn’t provide the quality to make anything happen despite having a good shot saved by Boruc.
As already mentioned, I see the strategy in not throwing youngsters into such a desperate situation, but still only making one substitution is a real questionable move. The likes of Djilobodji and Lescott might have provided the legs required to prevent the Bournemouth goal, but in all honesty I’m nit-picking. Even if we drew/won at the weekend we’d only be prolonging the inevitable.
Tom’s Rating: 5/10 - Again pleased we didn’t throw the youngsters in for the craic and let people get frustrated at them, but still the likes of Januzaj and the aforementioned defenders probably could have had some form of impact.
Post-Match Comments: Pointless?
By the end of the game we were mathematically relegated after Josh King scored that 88th minute winner and Hull’s keeper saved a Southampton penalty to salvage a draw - what more needs to be said? Relegation: a dirty, worrying word.
Moyes declined to talk about his future at the club, insisting that was something to be ignored until the season’s close which only serves to lengthen our uncertainty at the club’s future.
He did make one daft comment which I can’t let pass by:
It summed up our season. We played well for long parts. We had four or five good opportunities and did a good job.
Sorry, Dave, but what world have you been living in? We’ve won 5 games all season and looked atrocious. Relegation is the culmination of this season’s lackluster efforts, and there is literally nothing positive about that.
Tom’s Rating: 0/10 - He’s been awful at them all season. Negativity has morphed into some form of deluded assurance that he’s done alright. What a load of tosh.