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Sunderland Unveil New Head Coach Michael Beale

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What are Michael Beale’s top priorities as he settles into the Sunderland job?

As the former Rangers boss gets to know his squad, what are the main issues he faces, and which players will be keen to impress?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


Malc Dugdale says…

I’d say there are three main priorities for Beale during the coming weeks.

The first is to win over the dressing room and to keep the lads playing their best football for him.

We were unlucky not to get something from the Bristol City game but after two wins against very good opponents, Mike Dodds has set a high bar. Beale needs to ensure that we keep performing at a similar or slightly better level in terms of league points and football quality, as he develops his ideas and tries to imprint them on our playing style and tactics.

If we slip down the table due to results and form fading, he’ll have a huge struggle with the players, the club, and the fans.

The second priority is to identify and implement an effective way forward for our strikers, and he might’ve already started this process with all four of them running out against Arsenal on Monday night.

Although we lost that game, he’ll have seen what’s on offer and he needs to get something out of these attacking players. We may well do some business in a few weeks so he needs to work out his preferences and get some goals out of them.

If we’d had even a few more goals from the strikers, we’d be so much better off in terms of league points and our ability to vary our attack and challenge defenders.

The third priority for me is to sort out the midfield.

The Corry Evans-shaped hole seems like a minor issue against some opponents but a huge issue against others. Much like the striker situation, Beale needs to figure out what he can and can’t work with, who fits where and send his wish list to Kristjaan Speakman and company.

I expect they’re already working on both midfield and attacking options, but he’ll be expected to make some space in terms of shirts and wages, so it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.

If he can get goals from the strikers, sort out our midfield options and generally get the lads clicking with him as a gaffer, he’ll be well placed to see what we get in January and to push for the highest possible league position come May.

Sunderland Unveil New Head Coach Michael Beale Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Martin Wanless says…

Mike Dodds showed in the two games against West Brom and Leeds the tactical changes that needed to be made to Tony Mowbray’s team, and I think maintaining that more simplified approach – such as full backs overlapping and maybe a less fluid system in midfield- should continue to serve us well.

It’ll be interesting to see how he approaches things over the coming weeks. Reports suggest that he prefers to play without wingers, but when we’ve got Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts, it would be foolish not to do so, so that’s one to watch with interest.

Of course, the biggest thing he’s got to solve is the striker situation.

We need to get one firing and Nazariy Rusyn’s goal on Monday night won’t have harmed his cause. He took it well and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.

All of the players will naturally be keen to impress, but I think Jenson Seelt possibly has the most to gain. Mowbray was obviously a big fan of Luke O’Nien at centre back, and although I don’t get the negativity directed towards him, Seelt is a more natural stopper and could establish himself alongside Dan Ballard.

In addition, the likes of Jay Matete, Timothée Pembélé and Aji Alese are coming back from injury at just the right time and will be introduced by Beale sooner rather than later, while Adil Aouchiche, Luis Hemir, Jewison Bennette and Elizer Mayenda will all be keen to impress the new head coach, too.

In the first few weeks I don’t see him changing much, but as the games come thick and fast over Christmas, we’ll likely see some experimentation.

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