Chris Young analysis: West Ham v Sunderland

ANOTHER CHANCE? Alvarez

ANOTHER CHANCE? Alvarez

0
Have your say

THERE IS no bedding-in period; no positives to take from performances that ultimately end in defeat.

The here and now is all that matters for Dick Advocaat.

These two game are both possibilities for Advocaat and he desperately needs to get off to a bright start and build some momentum.

He has nine games and probably needs to garner at least nine points from that run.

If Sunderland’s players take time to become attuned to Advocaat’s methods, tactics or motivational speaking, then the Black Cats will struggle to remain in the Premier League.

Advocaat’s Sunderland have to hit the ground running and the former Rangers manager’s first two games at the helm are absolutely crucial.

West Ham’s confidence won’t be at the pomp it was during the opening half of the season, after just three points from the last seven games, while the derby which follows in a fortnight after the international break, arguably pits the Premier League’s current worst two teams together.

Newcastle aren’t under the immediate threat of relegation, but they are in almost as sorry state as Sunderland.

It has the potential to be the lowest quality Wear-Tyne tussle in living memory.

But these two game are both possibilities for Advocaat and he desperately needs to get off to a bright start and build some momentum.

It’s what Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Martin O’Neill have all been able to do in helping Sunderland avoid the drop.

Whatever their long-term failings, they made an immediate impact.

When clubs existing under the cloud of relegation gamble on a managerial change late in the season, they need a short, sharp boost in the points tally.

If not ... well, just look what happened at Fulham and Norwich last season.

Felix Magath – understandably the subject of comparisons with Advocaat this week – took just one point from his first three games and the Cottagers never really threatened to survive after that.

Similarly, Neil Adams at Norwich managed a paltry point from his five games at the helm in the Premier League and the Canaries went down.

If Sunderland don’t win in the next two games and secure one of the two or three victories they need to stay up, then this latest throw of the managerial dice could immediately fall flat.

However, Advocaat’s bid to get off the mark at Upton Park tomorrow is not helped by the options he has had to work with this week.

No suspended Lee Cattermole, no injured Emanuele Giaccherini, plus John O’Shea and Seb Larsson both nursing knocks from last weekend’s shameful shenanigans against Aston Villa.

O’Shea and Larsson should be fit enough to keep their places against the Hammers, yet it’s hardly ideal for Advocaat to have minimal time with the experienced pair on the training ground.

The big decision is, of course, whether Adam Johnson plays any part after his club suspension was lifted and he returned to training.

Physically, Johnson isn’t really going to have suffered during the last fortnight, but mentally, recent events will inevitably have been traumatic and it will be the psychological condition of the £10million winger that Advocaat has to mull over.

Should Johnson be left out – or even on the bench – then Advocaat has to find some kind of solution to ensure Jermain Defoe receives a sniff of service after feeding on the rottenest of scraps in recent games.

Does Ricky Alvarez simply need a kick up the behind?

Does Patrick van Aanholt move into a left-sided midfield role?

Is a Premier League debut for Duncan Watmore the answer?

While Advocaat will surely attempt to avoid making radical changes to the side, those wide positions are the principle dilemma.

Opposite number Sam Allardyce – who predictably brushed off speculation linking him with Sunderland yesterday – has his own selection problems, with the likes of Andy Carroll, Enner Valencia and James Tomkins missing, albeit key defender Winston Reid could return to the fold tomorrow.

But with the Hammers safely nestled in mid-table and little really to play for now other than league position, this is all about Sunderland.

They need a big, big bounce effect from a new manager.

Verdict: Draw