Gary Engel says...
Lee Johnson has set out a clear message how he wants to play, and every level of the football club has this season adapted to play the 4-5-1 system.
That has meant some of the younger players have found the transition easier when they’ve played in the cup games. Johnson’s philosophy has meant we can replace players in each position, virtually, like-for-like.
It’s clear we’ve got a much more attacking ethos, but when most teams play that system they go with two defensive-minded midfielders to sit a little deeper to protect the back line. While the player in the number 10 position often drops back to regain or maintain possession.
As impressive Dan Neil has been, I’d be prepared to sacrifice him for a couple of games with Evans in his place to shore up the creaking backline. After all, many of the games we’ve lost in this division are lost in the middle of the park to much more physical midfields. Those are games we need to dig deep to win. Winchester would also be perfect to put his stamp on proceedings in the middle.
Johnson also needs to look at playing the players who are in form. That can’t be said of many of those who have started during our last three league defeats over a very poor October for us league-wise. We have the players to rectify our current form, Johnson just needs a bit of a rethink.
Mark Carrick says...
Personally, I’d just make a tactical switch and rotate personnel accordingly.
The full backs were given next to no cover, but then Dajaku and McGeady are forward players who give defending a fleeting thought, at times. Arguably Gooch and Pritchard are more ‘conservative’ options that give you a better balance when protecting a midfield.
Dan Neil and Eliot Embleton give us the drive and creativity in the centre, so we need a defensive midfielder to orchestrate things and cover the defence. Cory Evans is that man, but getting him fit and firing for 90 mins has clearly been an issue this season. O’Nien has played that role with mixed results, so the sooner Evans is playing the better.
Winchester would be the other option but with Huggins injured, the lad continues to deputise well. But we have to remember he’s playing out of position, whilst both Doyle and Cirkin are, like Neil, in their breakthrough season. Maybe it’s wise to keep the ‘Tuesday’ partnership of Alves & Wright for the trip to Hillsborough and give Doyle a rest?
A number of changes, but it’s more about balance, looking after players around you better, and developing a more cohesive performance than we saw at Rotherham.
Reece Davies says...
Have to agree with the majority of what Mark has said too - although, I’m just not sure on Bailey Wright at present. For me, I think his legs have gone and there are too many mistakes in him, I think the defence (personnel) isn’t the problem, it’s more about what comes in front of them.
I totally agree that Evans and Neil together could solve the cover the defence desperately needed yesterday and could prove vital on Tuesday.
I think O’Nien needs a rest and more than anything, needs to be taken out of the firing line. A few appearances from the bench, with his energy could do him and Sunderland some good. Embleton, Gooch and Pritchard filling the rest of midfield could be the way forward.
Pritchard can come in and out of games but for me, he has the ability to pick the final pass well and Stewart needs that quality. Gooch comes in ahead of Dajaku purely for his ability to cover Wini in defence.
We have to think about hitting teams at the top on the counter attack, we have to learn that there are other ways to win games and sometimes expecting teams to adapt to us (especially when we’re away) won’t always happen.
Teams still see Sunderland as a “free hit” and are prepared to lose the game by going on the front foot. Sometimes we seem naive and go at games in fashion, when we should be cuter in our approach.
Ant Waterson says...
I think Tuesday will give Johnson the opportunity to see what we are like without Aiden McGeady. I personally think McGeady has been poor all season and especially in the last two league games.
Personally, I would like Alves given a go. He’s done nothing wrong in the games he has played and deserves his chance in a league game. Evans is also a must in the midfield with Luke O’Nien dropping out.
Given that our wingers will need to work very hard, I would bring O’Brien in for Dajaku and Gooch to fill the gap left by McGeady. Whoever plays in the 10 must do a better job of supporting Stewart. He has looked very isolated recently and we have not been quick enough to support him.
As for the keeper, I think it would be harsh of Hoffmann to be dropped after one bad game, but Lee Burge if selected I’m sure will do a good job.