Chris Maguire, Jack Diamond and shape: The changes Sunderland may now be considering after three straight defeats
It’s something Sunderland haven’t experienced since March 2018.
For the first time since dropping into League One, the Black Cats have lost three league games on the spin.
It’s a run of form that needs to promptly come to an end, particularly if Sunderland want to enter the play-offs with any kind of momentum behind them.
There are unlikely to be any radical reforms and indeed, Lee Johnson will be aware that large parts of the performance against Blackpool were good – with small margins costing the side.
But what changes could the head coach be weighing-up as he looks to arrest the run of defeats?
We take a look at THREE potential changes that could be considered in the coming weeks:
SHOULD JACK DIAMOND GET AN OPPORTUNITY?
Having recently been handed a new long-term contract, Diamond looks set for a sparkling future at the Stadium of Light.
But he could also be a useful player in the here and now.
Quick, direct and difficult for defenders to deal with, the academy graduate could give the Black Cats a different dimension in the attacking third – at a time where they are occasionally looking somewhat stale in the final third.
Jordan Jones hasn’t been as influential in Sunderland’s last two games, and Diamond impressed in his start at Wigan.
It would therefore be little surprise to see the youngster handed further opportunities in the coming weeks, as he could help liven up the Black Cat’s forward line.
IS IT TIME FOR CHRIS MAGUIRE?
When games are being decided by fine margins, Sunderland need those players who are capable of conjuring up some inspiration in the final third in their side.
Maguire is certainly one of those, but has been out of favour in recent weeks.
But having returned to the bench at Bloomfield Road, calls will now intensify for Maguire to return to the starting line-up.
And it’s understandable as to why – Maguire can deliver those moments, whether they be strikes from outside the box or deliveries, that can help settle games.
Sunderland are in need of something different in an attacking sense, and the Scot could well provide that.
COULD SUNDERLAND CHANGE THEIR SHAPE?
Sunderland have had some success while playing three at the back, but that looks unlikely in the short-term.
That’s simply due to the fact that Sunderland’s defensive options are severely limited, meaning a flat back four looks likely moving forward.
But could we see some tweaks ahead of them?
Johnson started in a 4-4-2 at Blackpool and has also utilised a 4-2-3-1 in recent weeks.
Given their defensive injuries and the fact that Johnson’s tactics have largely served Sunderland well during his tenure, it’s unlikely that we will see any form of radical overhaul when it comes to system and shape.
Some subtle tweaks may well be applied though, particularly in the final third as the Black Cats look to turn their periods of dominance into something more tangible in the final five games of the campaign.