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“It was always going to be difficult with the team we put out” - Grayson looking to keep players fresh

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With the admission that last night’s bizarre team selection was partially down to the Sunderland boss keeping an eye out for Saturday’s game against Cardiff, has Grayson put even more pressure on his side ahead of this weekend’s visit from Cardiff City?

Everton v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

On several occasions now it has felt like Simon Grayson is both damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t. Last night was one of those evenings where anything and everything the gaffer did just turned to cack.

It was always going to be difficult with the team we put out – we certainly had one eye on the weekend.

Grayson was eager to note after the game that he had taken the opportunity to rest several players ahead of this weekend’s fixture against Cradiff. However, did last night’s poor performance do just as much harm as it did good in affording Grayson the chance to rest some weary legs?

We know we could have done better, but we are very low on numbers due to injuries, with the lads who aren’t available, and with one eye on the weekend.

The gameplan was to keep it nice and tight, nice and solid, but the goal just before half-time obviously gave them a lift and rocked us a little bit. Up to then, we were quite comfortable, but then the game opened up a bit and we were punished for mistakes.

Sunderland were simply outclassed last night, and were always going to be by an Everton side that, despite struggling thus far in the Premier League, has an incredibly strong squad. Some might argue that Grayson should have tested more youngsters in a game in which he clearly felt was almost a distraction, but a similar scoreline with youth on the pitch would almost certainly receive just as much negative backlash, wouldn’t it?

Grayson currently finds himself between a rock and a hard place, and with an unforgiving schedule preventing even a moment’s rest, the Sunderland boss will desperately be hoping that his decision to rest certain players will energize his side ahead of this weekend’s fixture at home to Cardiff.

Everton v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Third Round
Sunderland were simply outclassed last night, and it’s sad to accept that it’s going to take quite some time until we’ll be competing with the big boys again.
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Last night felt like something akin to damage limitation, and if that was the case then this weekend’s game will have twice as much expectation placed upon it.

We wanted to take the game to them a bit more and the changes we made later on in the game proved that we had better players coming off the bench.

It was disappointing though, because, regardless of what team we put out, we wanted to make more of a contest of it and win the game.

One major problem last night was the fact that Sunderland’s defence was 75% constructed from incredibly average right backs. Grayon is struggling for ideas to get his men up for the fight, and something needs to click quickly in order to quell the growing murmurs of discontent on the terraces.

Grayson did note that some players played alright, saying:

I thought Darron Gibson did OK on the ball, we were better when Williams and McManaman came on, but it was that balance of keeping them fresh for the weekend because of the schedule we have got with playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday again next week.

It’s still far too early to call Saturday’s game a six-pointer, but fans and club officials will be keenly aware that something angry is bubbling away just below the surface at the SoL, and Grayson has just upped the pressure on his men to perform.

Hopefully something drags us from our slump, and fast.