Sam Allardyce believes Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher should be fuming at seeing their goalscoring prowess undone by Sunderland’s defensive vulnerability.
Defoe and Fletcher started together as an orthodox strike partnership for the first time under Allardyce in Sunday’s defeat at Everton, and responded by both getting on the scoresheet.
The first half strike from Defoe was his sixth goal in all competitions this season, while in-form Fletcher headed home his third in four games in a red and white shirt.
Since taking charge of Sunderland a month ago, Allardyce has been contemplating whether he could restore Defoe to the starting XI and use the England international in his favoured centre forward role.
And Allardyce was encouraged by the signs from the duo in a new 3-5-2 set-up, absolving them of blame for a defeat which stemmed from Sunderland collapsing defensively after clawing back a two-goal deficit.
“The system was about what we had available, but it also allowed me to play Steven Fletcher and Jermain Defoe,” said Allardyce.
Those two scored, they did their job, they got us back in the gameSam Allardyce
“If I’m Fletcher or Defoe, I’d be looking at the other players and saying ‘We like playing up front together, but the manager isn’t going to do that, if you lot don’t sort it out’.
“Those two scored, they did their jobs, they got us back in the game.
“The chances created is a bit of a positive; the amount of attempts we had on Everton’s goal.
“But at the other end, Everton have had eight efforts on target and scored six.
“Jermain Defoe comes and scores and Steven Fletcher scores, and Everton are on the back foot now.
“But that doesn’t mean you go all guns blazing. We made it end-to-end, when we shouldn’t have done.
“We’d come back from two goals down away from home, it’s a fantastic comeback.
“If we’d come off 2-2, we’ve got the headlines, not Everton.
“That’s great for the opportunity to fight ourselves out of this position.
“But we lost concentration for seven minutes and blew it.”
Sunderland’s midfield pair and wing-backs were all guilty of losing their discipline after Fletcher’s equaliser, and pushing high up the pitch in search of more goals.
But while they were not offered an abundance of protection, Allardyce was also critical of his three central defenders.
“Three at the back should have stopped at least two of the goals – certainly the (Romelu) Lukaku goal, and the (Arouna) Kone (second) goal,” he added.
“We should have had three protecting that goal.
“I can put as many at the back as you want, but if players don’t look around and see where the attackers are...
“I thought we were getting there defensively in the previous two games, but we went back to square one.”