Tony Gillan: Sunderland have nothing to lose in changing tactics for Burnley clash
What a weekend I had.
I called in at the bank, bought a cooked chicken, took my books back to what’s left of the library and wormed the dog. Saturdays just don’t get any better than that.
Well they don’t this season.
This boundless exhilaration might be truncated this coming Saturday when it is incumbent on me to watch Sunderland play again. I checked my contract and there is no way out of it.
Still, it could be different this time, although somehow I doubt it. The reason to doubt it is that no changes to speak of are anticipated in selection, formation or tactics.
Working backwards, Sunderland weren’t terrible against Manchester City, but no change was made from Everton. The display at Goodison Park wasn’t bad either, but it was another defeat without scoring; as was the City match.
The Everton game began with only two changes; one was the goalkeeper and the other was enforced. This was despite the previous game being the pitiful home defeat to Southampton.
Sunderland have failed to score in seven of their last nine games in league and cup. The two exceptions were a virtually meaningless consolation against Stoke and the beano in the first half against Crystal Palace. The performance at Selhurst Park looks more like a blip with each passing week.
Surely something different must be tried. But what?
Current fads adopted by teams higher up the league include avant-garde methods with trendy names like “marking,” “keeping the ball” and “people other than the striker attempting to score.” These novel concepts could be worth looking into.
Sarcasm aside, there are options to consider in three days time, even if they are somewhat limited, when Burnley come to town (who by the sounds of it, really fancy their chances of a first away win).
Fabio Borini could play up from beside Jermain Defoe.
Of the regular starters, only Adnan Januzaj has looked capable of running at opponents when he takes a well-earned break from whinging. So it might be an idea to play Wahbi Khazri on the other side – even if it’s only for an hour.
Didier N’Dong could play further up the field. Jan Kirchhoff could be a sweeper. Seb Larsson could go in goal. Pop Robson could be coaxed out of retirement. Five minutes before kick-off they could all do the hokey cokey, then turn around – that’s what it’s all about.
It’s just possible that you might disagree with some of the suggestions above.
You’re entitled to do so and after all, most of them are stupid.
But everyone can agree that if David Moyes takes some sort of alternative approach, then it is barely possible that he would make matters worse. What is there to lose?
Sunderland’s tactic of fielding containing players and hoping to strike on the break has been a serial failure.
A win against Burnley would restore a little hope and mean that Sunderland fans can watch Match of the Day for a change.
Defeat equals despair and all that could be said for a draw is that it would be better than a defeat. Ergo: go for the throat.
And if there is no cheer on Saturday then at least we have the following weekend to look forward to. It’s blank again.
Just think Sunderland supporters; on March 25 you won’t have to watch football and can enjoy more of last weekend’s frenzied pastimes.
You can put your CDs in order, polish the skirting boards, take your bowler hat to the menders, milk the dolphins...