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Should Phil Parkinson throw Will Grigg straight in to his Sunderland starting XI on Saturday?

One of the first tasks for Phil Parkinson to tackle as Sunderland manager will be rebuilding the confidence of the man signed to fire us to promotion. Should he throw Will Grigg straight into his starting eleven on Saturday?

Sunderland v Walsall - EFL Sky Bet League 1 Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Q: With a new manager set to be in place for the match with Wycombe at the weekend, should Will Grigg come straight into the Sunderland starting XI?

Gav says...

I think so, yeah.

I’m not the biggest fan of Grigg and I’ve been highly critical of him in the past, but one thing I think we can all admit is that being able to regrow his confidence and get him scoring goals could be the difference between promotion and staying in League One.

His record before he arrived at Sunderland speaks for itself - Grigg is a predator, but Jack Ross never set up his team to work for him and as a player who needs the ball into feet, with plenty of crosses coming into the box from out wide, the Northern Ireland international has suffered immeasurably playing under our former manager.

If I was the new manager one of the first things that I’d do when I rock up at the Academy of Light would be to get Grigg to one side and have a proper chat with him. Talk all about what he feels went wrong under Jack Ross, listen as he tells me what he thinks I need to do to get the best from him, and then promise him that he’ll do absolutely everything to ensure that Sunderland set up in a way that gets the best from Will Grigg.

Can you imagine the boost that would give to a player who, under the previous regime, had seen his confidence rapidly decline? It’s a chance for him to start afresh after taking his time to bed in and get used to his new surroundings.

Pairing Grigg with one of Maguire or McNulty, with O’Nien running off him and Power supplying the passes from deep, could well be one solution for how we get the most from Will. Ultimately, a lot of where he goes from here comes down to himself. With Ross gone this is an opportunity for another crack at being successful here, and self-motivation combined with clever man-management AND setting up the team to play in a way that ensures we create chances for Grigg might just be what it takes to get him firing again.

Sunderland v Walsall - EFL Sky Bet League 1 Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

James Nickels says...

One of Jack Ross’s biggest and constant issues throughout the second half of his tenure here has been the inability to get the best out of his strikeforce on a consistent basis, with Grigg the main culprit.

The man has shown quality at times, and has a proven track record of being a prolific goalscorer at this level. Though Ross didn’t always play to the Northern Irishman’s strengths, he also cannot be held accountable for the myriad of missed golden chances over this time. Grigg has missed more “big chances” as classified by InStat as chances which have a high probability of resulting in a goal than any of the other strikers combined.

This could be a sign that he will likely never make it at Sunderland and has lost his magic touch of a few years ago, or the more likely, that he is simply bereft of confidence. Though it could be seen as a risk, as with Marc McNulty up front the side look entirely more balanced and dangerous, the new man at the helm needs to put his arm around Grigg and make him the focal point of the side.

Grigg has quite obviously been exacerbated with the football at times, and his body language exudes a man who was not happy in the previous setup. Despite missing numerous golden opportunities throughout his time in the North East, he is repeatedly the man who finds himself in these positions.

Hopefully the new man can come in and provide the man signed to get us out of League One with the confidence so he can prove he has the ability to do just that.

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Damian Brown says...

Hard to say, really. On the one hand, potentially the appointment of a new manager signals the end of Grigg’s goal drought, given their experience together, but I also find it hard to quantify how Ross would be responsible for Grigg’s lack of goals in the first place.

Initially the consensus was that he wasn’t receiving the service, and patience was key. Of course, we all sat and watched as our collective patience wore thin, witnessing for ourselves the clear opportunities Grigg was actually given, but squandered. He’s had every chance to justify his price tag regardless of whether Ross is a good manager or not.

That said, the idea that Grigg will douse himself in the proverbial petrol and set himself alight merely at the absence of Jack Ross would be a remarkable indictment of the manager anyway. It would imply that Ross was unable to nurture the ego of his players or recognise and compensate for their temporary foibles.

I think Grigg would have started the Wycombe game even so. He’s simply too large a piece of the puzzle that is Sunderland - one of only three strikers that aren’t made of fibreglass, and one of two that have so far spectacularly failed to impress the Sunderland faithful. I think any manager would come in, look at Grigg’s form before Sunderland, look at his form at Sunderland, and scratch their heads for a good hour puzzling over exactly what the f**k has happened here?

In that sense they’d take him aside and say something along the lines of:

Look lad, you’ve had a rough time of it since you moved here, I know that, you know that, but I’m telling you now I know how good you are and I know exactly how you’re going to make the difference for us here...

Parkinson or otherwise, no manager worth his salt would even think about not giving Grigg a chance under a fresh atmosphere and with renewed belief. You simply can’t dismiss a dip in form after a big money transfer as the end of that players career.

It’s easy for us as exasperated fans to think that, but as a manager you’re trained and paid to know better. I think he’ll be straight in the team and, if we’re fortunate, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was first on the score sheet.

Sunderland v MK Dons - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Steven Hadlow/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Phil Butler says...

Absolutely. The change of manager is a good chance for the whole squad to reset and take some new ideas, and no player needs that more than Will Grigg.

Whilst I’d agree that he’s been extremely poor, and on the pitch has actually shown very little that suggests he’s better than Marc McNulty, Grigg has proven pedigree at League One and if Sunderland’s new manager can 1) play to his strengths and 2) improve his confidence, Sunderland have a very good chance of seeing close to 20 goals from the former Wigan man - something which would almost guarantee automatic promotion in a league that is significantly weaker than it was last season.

The new manager has one main task when he comes in - get Sunderland’s strikers scoring. Will Grigg is the first person they should start with.

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