Wise Men Say: Sunderland must get a stranglehold on Manchester United

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I tried my best to think objectively and positively after the loss to Bournemouth at the weekend, and could well take the whole ‘glass half full’ approach about the cup defeat to Man City too. Momentarily, anyway.

I mean, yet another goal appeared to be chalked off incorrectly, this time from an again impressive Fabio Borini, and there was a positive debut from Yedlin .

And ... that would be it though. I did say momentarily.

I can only imagine that Dick Advocaat would have tried a different gameplan if this was a league game.

Sunderland have historically set the blueprint on how to beat City at home after all, and I have visions of each passing manager simply dusting off the old how-to-beat-city manual left by the previous one.

I appreciate we all wanted to see a more attacking side this season, but it’s hard to presume that Dick thought allowing his side to be so open against City would bring success.

I could understand if that was the case actually, almost treating the extra game as a free pass to see if your players can adapt to your changes.

Would we dare even watch the game at Old Trafford tomorrow if there was more of the same though?

The notion of going back to basics is a regular strategy for our lot; it’s the proposed default setting.

But I really can’t emphasise enough how this has to be the case against Man United.

Lee Cattermole will be glad for half an hour of action, and we won’t have Vito Mannone spreading his panic onto the defenders in front of him.

But above team selections, the team spirit and tactics shown in the aforementioned wins against the blue half of Manchester have to be replicated tomorrow.

There must be a focus to starve the opposition of oxygen, a desire and determination to work hard off the ball, and a belief that at least one counter attack can be executed with precision.

Or it will be a long afternoon?

Of course, it would be typical Sunderland to get a battling point in this game and have us all talk about the green shoots of recovery before losing 4-0 at home to West Ham.

We discussed on the podcast this week what it could be that makes a side look so much worse than last season despite improving the playing staff.

It’s important to stress that the manager isn’t free from criticism in all of this, and there was a difference in opinion over the percentage of his questionable tactics compared to individuals making mistakes.

Although, we weren’t quite arguing amongst ourselves, there’s this horrible feeling that mutiny in the stands is a little closer than any of us want it to be.

H The Wise Men Say podcast is available every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.