Dick Advocaat will reconsider his decision to keep faith in Sunderland’s defence after shipping seven goals in the opening two games.
Advocaat resisted the temptation to introduce either captain John O’Shea or summer signing Adam Matthews against Norwich City last weekend, despite the back-line being run ragged in the opening day defeat at Leicester.
At the moment, there are players playing who I can’t understand why they are playing that wayDick Advocaat
The head coach wanted to give his defence another chance to find their feet, with new-look central defensive pair Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates starting alongside each other just once during the pre-season campaign.
But Sunderland were just as fragile defensively in the shambles against the Canaries and that may force Advocaat into a re-think for Saturday’s visit of Swansea.
“I didn’t want to change the back-line already after one game,” said Advocaat.
“But at the moment, there are players playing who I can’t understand why they are playing that way.
“I cannot understand it, honestly.
“But there must be a reason and I hope that they can tell me.”
Advocaat looked for answers from his players when the squad assembled after the Norwich game on Sunday.
The meeting was held in the middle of the training pitch at the Academy of Light, with Advocaat urging his players to be honest about why Sunderland’s start to the season has been so dismal.
It is understood that there have been concerns among senior players about the sheer lack of intensity in the side over the opening two games.
Left-back Patrick van Aanholt has been one of the prime culprits behind Sunderland’s defensive troubles, with the former Chelsea man preyed upon by both Leicester and Norwich.
While van Aanholt’s natural tendencies are to go forwards, Advocaat has stressed to his full-backs that they need to defend first and foremost, although there was little evidence of improvement on that score from the Dutchman against Norwich.
“I spoke to the players and told them that we like full-backs, who if the possibility comes, they go forward,” said Advocaat.
“But I’ve changed that. I’ve now set up a different way.
“The first way for the back four is now defence.
“And then the opponent cannot get the kind of space they got at Leicester.
“Take care of your man, and beside that, if you can do a little bit more, then go forwards, otherwise not.
“We have to change the basic facts.”