Wise Men Say: A shear lack of accountability will seal Sunderland's fate
As another transfer window closed, I was pessimistic to say the least. Through no fault of the manager, the squad looked even weaker than it did at the start of the window.
We had lost two senior strikers and only brought one in to replace them and without exception, every signing had been a loan or free transfer.
Either the player was so far down in the pecking order that their parent club just wanted them off the wage bill or in the case of Ovie Ejaria, so inexperienced that Liverpool were desperate for him to get a taste of first-team football.
Although, this was far from ideal, I was prepared to accept Chris Coleman’s rhetoric that all the players left at the club wanted to be here and fight for the shirt. In recent weeks, I have certainly not seen that on the pitch.
At times we have seen that we can execute a game plan and performing reasonably well. In fact, we have not lost a game when we have taken the lead in games, but it is the second that the slightest thing blows us off course is where our problems start.
In our last eight games, we have been trailing on five occasions, a damming statistic. Even when this hasn’t been the case we haven’t covered ourselves in glory.
We lost to a dreadful side in Bolton and surrendered leads to Middlesbrough and Milwall in the other two. So even when we aren’t out of the game at half time, we have shown a complete inability to manage a game efficiently.
Whose responsibility is this? Some have questioned Chris Coleman’s tactics recently, but in my opinion much of this is semantics. It doesn’t matter if you play four at the back or five at the back, every player has an individual responsibility to do their jobs properly.
At The Den, there was criticism of the way we sat back in the second half as if this was a conscious tactic. Again, the players on the pitch need to step up and make sure that this doesn’t happen. Remember against
Newcastle under Sam Allardyce at St James’s Park when Big Sam spent the entire second half shouting at the back four to push up the pitch? That’s what that second half reminded me of.
Not one player took responsibility to get us out from the edge of our 18-yard box, and stop lumping the ball at every single opportunity?
But we didn’t, when we are under the cosh it is very rare that anyone on the field steps up to the plate and takes the game by the scruff of the neck. As soon as there’s any air of difficulty we crumble.
When we start the game poorly we seem to accept our fate. It’s not about tactics or formations, sometimes it’s about showing a bit of bottle and putting your neck on the line.
The most galling thing about our current situation is that anything other than absolute garbage is applauded and a welcome change.
This is the problem with having a team full of players who will probably see their future’s elsewhere come May.
None of the mud sticks to them, so no matter how much the players allegedly want to be at the club, when the chips are down they cannot be 100% committed to the cause when they probably see themselves at a different club in a few months’ time.
The depressing reality is, that unless the majority of the squad start taking accountability for their own performances it is difficult to see how we can get out of it.