Chris Coleman on reason behind improved Sunderland performances and ‘nonsense’ around formations

Coleman insists he has not given up on the relegation fight
Coleman insists he has not given up on the relegation fight
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Chris Coleman insists the recent upturn in performances is down to mentality and not the change in formation.

In recent games, Coleman has ditched his three centre backs and wing back system in favour of a flat back four.

Coleman believes too much can be made of formations with a lot of ‘nonsense’ spoken about systems.

Sunderland head into tonight’s must-win game against Norwich City on the back of good performances against Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United.

The points haul hasn’t reflected the improved showing, though, with Sunderland seven points from safety with only 15 to play for.

By Coleman’s own admission it will take a ‘mini-miracle’ to retain Championship status but he hasn’t given up hope it can be done.

When asked about the change in formation, Coleman said: “We have played a back four at times this season and been absolutely smashed to pieces, overpowered and overrun, and nobody then says ‘we’re playing with a back four’. I think it’s too easy.

“We won one of our first 17 games, and played mostly with a back four in that spell but nobody says anything about that.

“We went to the side that will be the champions – Wolves – with a back three and got a result even though we were down to ten men.

“So when people talk about back fours and back threes, for me that’s nonsense.

“As I’ve said all along, you can play whatever formation you like and if you’ve got the right mentality and the right attitude on the pitch, you will get results.

“I think people make too much of it [formations].

“We hadn’t won for almost a year at home playing with a back four, then we played with a back three and won.

“You play this formation or that formation depending on the tools you’ve got, and you make the best of it.

“The reason we have played well in the last three games is mentality, end of story.

“That has to continue. We have to play with no fear.

“The way we are playing at the moment, it looks like we could win or lose games because it is so open, but we don’t have any choice – we have to do that.

“On Saturday I think we had 16 shots at goal and Leeds had eight, they hit the woodwork twice, we hit it once, there were great saves at either end, but we are creating chances and we have to continue that.

“That’s the only way that we are going to pull off a mini-miracle.

“We have to continue what we are doing and let’s hope that, first an foremost, we can reduce the points gap and go from there.”

Coleman added: “We are still making mistakes but our mood is more positive, and our output is more positive in terms of making decisions, getting forward, and trying to make things happen.

“That’s why we’ve had three really good performances.”