Tony Gillan: David Moyes' strange Sunderland selections vindicated by the result against Liverpool

You could tell that Sunderland deserved their point against Liverpool on Monday.

Tuesday, 3rd January 2017, 11:21 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:42 am
Seb Larsson in action aganst Liverpool

Because Jürgen Klopp only demonstrated a little bit of post-match face twisting, rather than the fully fledged whinge we were expecting.

As much as is possible, all connected to Sunderland would be best served by forgetting the ineptitude at Burnley on Saturday.

Only 48 hours later some faith had been restored. Everyone performed admirably, they were well organised and showed the character that they forgot to take with them to Turf Moor.

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The players and the manager deserve credit for this.

However, certain team selections continue to befuddle.

Was the performance at Burnley just too magical for David Moyes to consider starting Wahbi Khazri on either wing? Has he offended Moyes? If so, how? If his attitude is really so bad, why is he even on the bench?

No one thinks Khazri is the answer to Sunderland’s every prayer.

He is a very inconsistent, erratic player.

Yet it is hard to fathom how he can be used so sparingly in a team so often in fruitless search for inspiration.

I have heard the usual fairytales, but can offer no reliable explanation.

Sebastian Larsson played as a left winger, despite being neither a winger nor naturally left-sided. He did well too, but it was still odd.

Sunderland’s first substitution was in midfield, when Jack Rodwell was replaced by Javier Manquillo, who is currently the third choice right-back and understandably looked a little lost.

Khazri eventually trotted out on the 79th minute. But he replaced Adnan Januzaj.

This was strange too as Liverpool were leading at the time and Januzaj is an attacking, creative player.

He may have been tired, but so were midfielders less likely to conjure something up.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Sunderland “got away with it” because as I said, they obviously deserved their point.

Moyes’ decisions were vindicated by the result. But it was only one game.

It is also an economic reality that Sunderland can’t just “forget about” a player who cost £9m and is on a long contract.

Nor do struggling clubs sell unwanted players for much money.

Even when Khazri, Koné and N’Dong return from Africa they won’t be coming back to a massively enlarged squad.

Therefore making the most of what you have is of the essence.