Team Selection: Déjà Vu
With the exception of Robbin Ruiter between the sticks, and Bryan Oviedo slotting in at left-back it was a case of Grayson fielding the same side that has played every other league game this season. Unfortunately they couldn’t muster a performance worth cheering about.
Now, I’m not going to be harsh here, because what other options does Grayson have? We’ve got an incredibly thin squad that isn’t blessed with strength in depth, and as Grayson has mentioned several times recently, we’re “vulnerable” to losing more players this week.
Either the side that’s fielded secures the win, or we struggle through with few to call on when in need of inspiration. Khazri looked uninterested, Gibson isn’t that kind of player, Asoro is inexperienced, and Gooch needs time. It’s tough for Grayson, and there’s little he can do to really change things up.
Verdict: What else can Grayson really do?
Tactics: Found Out
This is an area in which Sunderland can, and must, improve.
The 4-4-2 used thus far this season saw early success, but unfortunately it’s not particularly difficult to combat when you know what to expect. I spoke about this very issue in an article yesterday, and I really do think we’re tactically limited with the players at our disposal.
If anything, Grayson could revert to the 3-5-1-1 he used against Carlisle in order to provide a more stable core to the side, but the issue is a lack of creative options. McGeady cannot be expected to be the crux of our attack - he needs reinforcements.
If we want to be successful this season (whatever that may be construed as), we must secure quality additions before the week is out.
Verdict: We need more players to become more tactically flexible, and if we want to do well this season.
Substitutions: We Tried
Grayson did try to shake things up, but as already mentioned we just don’t have the personnel to make a real difference.
What else can Grayson do, though?
Right now either plan A works, or it doesn’t and we try to hang on. Hopefully the next couple of weeks give the boss time to work on tactics and to bed new players (fingers crossed) into the side.
Verdict: The manager tried his best, but what else can he realistically do?
Post-Match Comments: Spot On
One thing Grayson had perfect was his comments in the wake of the defeat. Sunderland fans were upset with his side’s commitment and quality - something Grayson acknowledged and will be keen to rectify:
They deserved to win the game because they did the basics right. They ran further and harder, they made tackles and that's what the Championship is about.
It's never acceptable to lose a game and it's certainly not acceptable to lose a game in the manner that we did.
He also noted the fact that players didn’t stick to the plan, which of course wouldn’t have helped one bit. In all it was pleasing to see him accept the anger of the fans - it makes me feel like he’s not here merely to pay us lip service:
Too many players wanted to do their own individual stuff instead of playing for the shape of the team. Our fans had a go and rightly so.
Grayson has about two weeks to prepare his men for their next league game at home to Sheffield United on September 9th.
Verdict: Fair play! Hopefully we respond to that poor performance.