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Talking Points: Andrew Taylor’s decision to stick with more of the same was disappointing

Sunderland’s caretaker boss spoke before the game about his players expressing themselves, but we still set up in the same predictable style that cost Phil Parkinson his job.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Sunderland drew 1-1 with struggling Burton Albion yesterday, meaning the Brewers remain unbeaten at the Stadium of Light in four attempts.

Burton took the lead following a Remi Matthews mistake, with Charles Vernam tapping home, but Sunderland equalised through a Max Power header from a Denver Hume cross.

The result moved Sunderland up to seventh, but the club have now failed to win in four league matches, whilst Burton remain three points from escaping the relegation places.

Sunderland lost both Charlie Wyke and Luke O’Nien to injury and questions remain regarding who will be Sunderland’s next manager, with caretaker manager Andrew Taylor unsure of his future.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet League One
Both Danny Graham and Will Grigg are both yet to score league goals this season.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Does Taylor need to move away from Parkinson’s tactics against Wigan?

Yesterday presented interim manager Andrew Taylor with a chance to conclude his tenure with Sunderland on a positive note, but his team selection left many Sunderland fans baffled.

Despite handing Elliot Embleton his first league start of the season, Taylor selected three defensive midfielders and opted for a standard Parkinson safety-first approach.

Sunderland failed to create clear-cut chances early on, against a side in the relegation places who had conceded the most goals so far in League One.

Yes Taylor changed the system later on, something Parkinson was stubborn over, but he waited ten minutes after conceding to bring on Will Grigg and Chris Maguire.

The performance stunk of a Parkinson approach - if the purpose of sacking him was to change things, why did the man replacing him keep things the same? We might as well have let under-23 coach Elliot Dickman step up.

Once Sunderland went two upfront and changed to a four defensively, we immediately started to create more chances and equalised through Max Power.

After a largely isolated match, Danny Graham was brought into the game and Grigg was massively unlucky not to score, it makes you question how many more points Sunderland could have achieved if Parkinson was more brave and willing to gamble.

With bottom side Wigan next, Sunderland really cannot afford to set up negatively and accept a 0-0. Results have proven that without red cards and penalties, Sunderland struggle to win games in our current system, we cannot approach Wigan the way we approach playing Burton.

If Taylor remains in charge, he needs to break away from Parkinson’s negative tactics and approach Saturday with the purpose of attacking the game.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet League One
Yesterday’s match was Andrew Taylor’s first in management.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Is Josh Scowen capable of being an offensive midfielder?

The most frustrating part of the yesterday’s team selection was Scowen’s deployment in attacking midfield.

The 27-year-old was signed as a defensive midfielder who could operate as a box-to-box, he was praised by fans of previous clubs for his work rate and tackling ability.

Despite this, under Parkinson’s tenure he was described as a like-for-like replacement for Chris Maguire, but the players are polar opposites.

Scowen has contributed zero goals or assists this season in League One, yet he is continuously started in offensive positions.

His strengths are not beating players or unlocking defences, he does not have the end product to be a ten.

It made Taylor’s decision to avoid going two upfront by starting Graham or Grigg, or starting Maguire, incredibly confusing.

Why against a struggling side would you not select more offensive players, instead of shoe horning a player into a position he does not thrive in?

Scowen has produced some good performances at times this season, but it is always within a deeper role, playing him further forward simply exposes the weaknesses in his game.

These type of decisions express the current coaching staff’s focus of setting up in a safety-first approach which seeks to protect the defence, leaving the team void of creativity and attacking threats,

Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Scowen’s only goal contributions came against Aston Villa under-21s, where he scored once and assisted three in an 8-1 victory.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Who will fill in for Luke O’Nien at right-back or wing-back?

In the latter stages of the match, Sunderland suffered another injury to a key player as Luke O’Nien appeared to dislocate his shoulder.

Should this have occurred, the 26-year-old could face three months on the side-lines, prompting the question of who will replace him.

The next Sunderland manager is likely to pick from three options, Conor McLaughlin, Dion Sanderson or Jack Diamond.

McLaughlin possesses the experience, but he has looked a new man operating at centre-back and I believe moving him back would ruin the progress he has made in a new position.

Sanderson played right-back in the Championship for Cardiff last season, but should Sunderland’s next manager persist with wing-backs, is the Wolves loanee good enough going forward to fill that role successfully?

The choice I would like to see if Sunderland continue with wing-backs is Jack Diamond, Sunderland criminally lack pace in their squad and the 20-year-old provides the direct running fans love to see from wide men.

Yes, he is untested defensively against better opposition, but Sunderland are a team who usually dominate the ball meaning Diamond would spend most of his time high up the pitch.

For me the team would benefit from someone who can contribute more goals and assists going forward like Diamond, rather than a more conservative choice like McLaughlin or Sanderson.

Sunderland v Aston Villa U21: EFL Trophy
Jack Diamond was left out of the squad by caretaker manager Andrew Taylor.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Has Matthews lost his chance to become number one?

After an impressive performance against Fleetwood last week, I asked you all if Matthews was ready to challenge Burge as number one - I think it is safe to say he has blew his chance.

Matthews spilled a simple effort which lead to Sunderland going 1-0 down, once again questioning his handling ability.

The mistake will be highly frustrating for the ex-Bolton man, as Lee Burge had not had a perfect season either, but it seems Burge will have to come back if his ankle has fully recovered.

The life of a goalkeeper is a cruel one, with mistakes almost always proving costly, but Sunderland cannot afford to have another Camp/Steele/Ruiter situation where goalkeepers are constantly costing points.

Matthews has now failed to keep a clean sheet in seven competitive matches for Sunderland.

It will be interesting to see whether academy graduate Anthony Patterson is awarded another chance against Oldham in the EFL Trophy next week.

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