Phil Parkinson baffled some supporters with his decision to stick with the same team (give or take) on Saturday, but his decisions paid off as we managed to get a late winner and keep a clean sheet. The stats presented by Steve last week show that Sunderland’s promotion hopes basically hinge on our ability to create more chances and thus get more shots on goal. What does Parky need to do in order to improve our productivity and shots on goal?
Tom Atkinson says...
I think Phil Parkinson deserves credit for sticking to his guns and guiding his side to a really decent victory against a promotion rival. In refraining from tinkering with his starting eleven, it seems like Parkinson is trying to foster the same sense of continuity that led to his side’s revival in fortunes. On Saturday, that worked a treat.
Granted, Portsmouth was a poor result, yet this past weekend Sunderland’s defence looked assured once more and as the game progressed, Sunderland’s superior fitness levels saw the side ramp up their attacking efforts while Ipswich faltered.
In the first half, Sunderland only managed two shots at goal; however, the second half saw Sunderland muster thirteen chances with three on target. As such, it seems as though this Sunderland side might feel out their opponents, so to speak, in the opening forty-five before really turning the screw in the second half.
The only issue with this side, in my opinion, is the lack of a forward capable of being a genuine goal threat. Both Wyke and Lafferty have a part to play, but Sunderland also need someone in the centre of their attack with the desire to get at defenders and force them into making difficult decisions. Pace and good movement are prerequisites of this role, so Antoine Semenyo could be a decent shout for this position, or even Lynden Gooch.
As much as Wyke and Lafferty offer Sunderland an outlet up top, and graft brilliantly throughout, it feels like this team just needs another dimension up front - someone capable of breaking between the lines, which would in turn drag the opposition’s defence all over.
Phil Butler says...
I think this question is a hard one to answer really, mainly because Sunderland’s chance creation has been pretty inconsistent over the past few games. If you’d asked me this same question at half time on Saturday afternoon I’d probably have come to the conclusion that Sunderland’s high pressing was the most important factor in the games where they managed to create a substantial number of chances, and that over the last few weeks Parkinson’s lack of rotation had meant some players needed a spell out of the side to reset and gain the energy and match fitness to play with a high press once again.
However, after half time Sunderland’s players seemed to gain energy rather than lose it, and the pressing improved as a result. Even if some individuals - such as Hume and O’Nien - struggled with end product Parkinson’s side looked like the more likely side to score and hit the woodwork twice before Maguire finally found the winner.
So, overall the simplest answer I could give to the question would be to play with the same intensity and pressing that Sunderland showed in the second half against Ipswich from the first whistle, and if Parkinson’s side can keep that up for 90 minutes, the underlying shots on target data will doubtlessly increase.
Sam Blakey says...
Being totally honest, when I saw the team sheet on Saturday my initial reaction was that it was a mistake to stick with the same side. The second half against Portsmouth was shocking in my opinion and was an indication that we needed fresh legs in the team. I was very surprised in particular that George Dobson kept his place, I was sure that we would see Scowen for the first time at the stadium of light. As well as Lafferty replacing Wyke up top.
At half time of the Ipswich game I thought once again that it was a mistake not to make changes for the game, due to us being poor in the first half and second best for the majority of it. However, the lads were terrific in the second half - with the team press being evident once again, it was a massive improvement on the first and in my opinion we deserved the win on the balance of the game.
Parkinson deserves huge credit for how he has turned around what are once stage seemed an impossible task. The defensive side of our game has gone from strength to strength under him in recent weeks. We’re not going to blow teams away every week like we did to the likes of Wycombe and Lincoln however a 1-0 win with a solid defensive display is just as good!
For the upcoming game against Rochdale I would like to see Lafferty start the game, as he looked sharp when he came on against Ipswich. In addition to this, while Charlie Wyke suits the system we are currently playing in terms of his hold up play, he is not particularly reliable or clinical in-front of goal.
With Grigg looking still out of favour with not being involved in the match day squads I think it’s fair that Lafferty is given a chance from the start.