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Malc Dugdale says…
Reflecting on the loss against Huddersfield, I’ve really no idea why Niall Huggins didn’t feature, so the first thing I’d do would be to get him back into the team.
We looked disjointed at the back, the communication was very iffy on several occasions, and poor defending led to both goals. Assuming Huggins doesn’t have an injury, we need to get back to our more successful defensive lineup, if we can.
Jenson Seelt almost scored and did okay, but he doesn’t have the pace to get back or the overlapping ability to get forward of Huggins, and we missed that on both sides of the pitch. I wish we had Dennis Cirkin as an option, but we don’t.
In the middle, we were static, lacking creativity and were downright dull.
If Dan Neil and Jobe need a rest, let’s try something else, as we can’t stick with the same lads in the middle of the park with the same tactics and expect things to change when our way of playing is so one-dimensional.
Changing people may also require alterations to our setup. We need movement and attacking intent instead of sideways passes, and our strikers will never score unless we give them a platform from which to do so.
The tactics are the big concern for me, but something we probably can’t change too much in between these two matches.
Tony Mowbray seems to be fine when the lads click and the opposition don’t try to park the bus and hit us on the counter. Although it’s unlikely Millwall will take that approach at The Den, they may do, given the success other teams have had using that setup of late.
It’s time for Mowbray and the coaching team to prove they have a raft of tactical tweaks and intelligent adjustments that the lads can apply on demand, with or without substitutes being used. At this level, we should have that, and the fans expect these options to be utilised when needed.
The apparent lack of an alternative tactical approach when our regular approach doesn’t work is becoming more and more concerning. We can’t lump four players on after an hour and expect things to work when they didn’t during the previous sixty minutes.
We need a game plan, a backup plan, and substitutes we can make to deal with any situation we may encounter. Right now, it feels like we have none of that ready to go, and that’s a big concern.
We need to see a step change across the board or Mowbray could be facing some very challenging discussions sooner than many of his supportive fans would’ve expected.
Tom Albrighton says…
The change has to be tactically, because Sunderland are stale.
For the second game running and not for the only time this season, our fluid approach has been trumped by straightforward organisation.
Our tactical fluidity is too often leading to overcrowding in the final third as we overload across the front line. This results in a line of four attackers standing stationary abreast the defensive line of the opposition.
Given that we lack the ability and nuance to dismantle teams from a five-at-the-back low-block, we’re regularly giving the ball away cheaply from our ponderous attacks and after being turned over with ease. Over-committing, particularly in midfield, hasn’t only contested our own attacks but has left the defence hopelessly exposed on numerous occasions.
Overly complicated, ponderous and stale, our current philosophy has morphed into something that negates our best talents and invites teams to exploit our deficiencies.
Add in the refusal to drop two players who I won’t name but find to be our two biggest under-performers (no prizes for guessing, by the way) and it leads to a predictably drab affair.
Sometimes you need to go backwards to go forwards and reverting to a previous approach which offered a mixture of dynamism, space and attacking freedom must be a priority.