Jack Ross should ditch 4-4-2 as Chris Maguire proves point: Six things learned from Sunderland's draw with Accrington Stanley

Sunderland dropped more points in the race for automatic promotion, here’s what we learned from the 2-2 draw with Accrington Stanley at the Stadium of Light.

Saturday, 16th February 2019, 08:31 am
Updated Saturday, 16th February 2019, 08:47 am
Charlie Wyke misses a glorious chance against Accrington Stanley.

Jack Ross goes two up top and it doesn’t work.

There had been widespread clamour for Ross to ditch his favoured 4-2-3-1 system and play two up front, partnering Will Grigg and Charlie Wyke.

Charlie Wyke misses a glorious chance against Accrington Stanley.

He did so against Accrington Stanley and despite a positive start, Sunderland soon became overrun in midfield and the strike pairing both missed sitters.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It didn’t work. Sunderland looked far more threatening and cohesive when they reverted to the 4-2-3-1 with Chris Maguire pulling the strings.

Ross should stick to his guns and will now probably ditch 4-4-2.

He said post match: “It probably just shows people have always thought there are dead easy answers in football but that is not always the case.”

George Honeyman battles for the ball.

Chris Maguire proves his point.

And now it’s up to him to produce that sort of display on a consistent basis.

Maguire had been dropped recently following a couple of poor displays.

He was not the only one, however, and could point to a few others in the side who had remained a constant despite poor performances, Lynden Gooch and Max Power spring to mind.

Maguire produced a brilliant cameo against Accrington and will now be looking to start against Gillingham.

He could prove a huge player for the run-in.

Time for Adam Matthews to be recalled and Luke O’Nien pushed into midfield?

There is a strong argument for O’Nien to be deployed further up the field, with full-back Matthews restored to the side.

One thing is for sure, Sunderland need to quickly nail down their best team and system and stick with it for the run-in.

Chopping and changing doesn’t help but Matthews is an established right-back and O’Nien deserves the chance to operate further forward.

Will Grigg fluffs his lines again.

Two home matches and three goal-den opportunities squandered.

This is not the start Grigg was hoping for. Nor Sunderland, having committed up to £4million to sign him from Wigan Athletic.

Ross is convinced he will soon hit the goal trail and his movement and the fact he is often in the right place suggests the goals will soon flow.

His pedigree is too good for them not to.

But Sunderland fans will want to see a big improvement soon.

Charlie Wyke struggles again.

His big move to the Stadium of Light is yet to work out.

There is an argument to say Sunderland don’t play to his strengths, but equally the striker - who missed a large chunk of the opening half of the season with two knee injuries - hasn’t convinced either.

Midway through the second half O’Nien flashed a brilliant cross across the face of goal. Wyke steered it wide from six yards.

Not long after Accrington scored their second and Wyke was hooked.

It would be a surprise to see him start against Gillingham.

Draws are harming automatic promotion hopes.

Sunderland have now drawn 14 games this season. 14.

It is seriously harming the club’s automatic promotion hopes, with Sunderland only picking up two points at home this week, closing the gap only slightly on Barnsley and Luton Town.

Ross made no secret of the fact this was a big week for Sunderland at home yet they have shown nothing to suggest they are worthy of automatic promotion this season.

The dreaded lottery of the play-offs looms ever larger.