He who McNairs, wins.
We had a debate in the WMS studio the other night about the sort of side David Moyes should be putting out on Wednesday night at Loftus Road. The general consensus was that a full strength side was needed with the hope a win would begin to build some much needed confidence into the squad.
Confidence is huge in football. We know that, you know that. Confidence amongst this squad is on the floor at present. We all know that too.
When I asked if Paddy McNair should start the game, it was unanimously opposed. And let’s be clear here, I wasn’t vigorously fighting his corner. Let’s be clear further, I didn’t (and still don’t) think Paddy McNair will turn into Paul Scholes.
But on seeing the team sheet, I immediately understood his inclusion. This is a player who we’ve signed to play. This is a player who has struggled thus far since his move from Manchester United and needs to step up. Sunderland don’t have £5m or whatever it was to spend on players solely for the future. Sunderland have wasted far too much money on rubbish and watched it slowly mould away on the sidelines.
Sunderland are far too reliant on the return of an injured Lee Cattermole, season in, season out, for it even to be considered a joke anymore. Play McNair and tell him to pull his finger out. Easy this management lark.
In seriousness though, fair play to him for stepping up and fair play to the whole side for reacting to going a goal down. I don’t care if QPR lost to Newcastle 6-0; I wouldn’t care if they lost to Hartlepool 10-0 and then put their youth team out to play us, going a goal down against anyone when so badly out-of-form provides a test.
Of course we’ve been here so many times before that nobody at all would be surprised if Sunderland go and lose tomorrow before getting a goalless draw against West Brom after that. But if it’s fair game to stick the boot in to the players when they lose, it’s only fair we acknowledge the result from the other night.
We have the whole season ahead of us to moan and abuse them, after all.
It wasn’t just McNair who deserves praise either as, by all accounts, N’Dong also put in an impressive display. Now if we didn’t sign the Fresh Prince of McNair (sorry and it’s stolen) to ease into the first team, we certainly didn’t make Didier Ndong our club record signing to afford him unlimited amounts of patience when it comes to him improving the side, no matter what Moyes might say.
Sunderland cannot spend that kind of money on mere potential. We’re still affording Jack Rodwell time to adapt to his new surroundings, aren’t we?
When it comes to Crystal Palace tomorrow, I watched them at Boro the other week and thought they were very lop-sided. If we match them in midfield then we have every chance of limiting their excellent counter-attacks, from which Townsend and Zaha can look simply devastating if they are given the room.
At the back, they look a bit dodgy, and we can only hope that we can capitalise on that with our abundance of centre forwards.