It’s time to give Jack Rodwell and Duncan Watmore new roles – Sunderland can’t get any worse

Jack Rodwell
Jack Rodwell
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It’s time for Sunderland to panic. It’s October and we’re still without a Premier League win.

Our defence is still as poor as it was at the start of the season. Even the goals we were scoring while losing earlier in the campaign have dried up.

Dick Advocaat simply has to try something a little bit desperate now. It seems clear that we are playing so poorly that we cannot just hope our form will pick up if we keep doing what we have been doing.

All of our defenders are in terrible form, with it seeming like there is no partnership of centre-backs that will actually provide any security. With that being the case, why not try Jack Rodwell at centre-half?

It’s been pointed out that he has all the attributes to play there, and indeed initially came through Everton’s academy primarily as a defender. His size, mobility and passing ability should hopefully mean he offers more than O’Shea, Coates or Kaboul have been doing so far.

If we can inject some pace and ability on the ball into the backline then perhaps we will be able to win the ball back easier, and then actually do something with it once we have possession.

Duncan Watmore

Duncan Watmore

Of course this is all just conjecture. After many years of being a central midfielder (albeit mostly a central midfielder clutching a sicknote), it’s entirely possible that Rodwell will prove to be a complete fish out of water at centre-back. But even if that is the case, and he turns out to be a complete liability, is that actually any worse than what would happen anyway?

It’s also time to try something radical further forward. Since looking promising in his displays against Aston Villa and Tottenham, Ola Toivonen has offered little. His lack of defensive work means that Sunderland may as well be playing with two in midfield.

With that being the case we may as well replace him with an actual striker and just play with two up top. Will it lead to us being overran in midfield? Probably. Would we be overrun if we stuck with Toivonen there? Definitely.

At least with Borini and Defoe up front together there’s a chance we might grab a goal. Considering we haven’t scored in the Premier League since the draw at Villa in August it has to be worth a go.

If Advocaat wanted to be even bolder he could try playing Duncan Watmore up front. The Dutchman has spoken of how he sees the youngster as more of a striker than as a winger. Whilst this has seen his game time reduce as he finds himself in the queue behind Borini, Defoe, Fletcher and Graham there is no real reason for this to be the case.

Fletcher and Graham have had enough chances to prove their worth. Defoe has missed numerous costly chances in the last few games as well.

One anonymous substitute appearance against Spurs should not rule Watmore out of the first team fixture. His desire and commitment, allied to what seems to be a natural finishing ability, could help bring the best out of the squad members who seem to be lacking the necessary fighting spirit.

To be honest, I don’t think it is likely that any of these suggestions will turn around Sunderland’s fortunes and kick start our season. But at this point I don’t see any benefit in not trying every conceivable idea, no matter how mad.

After all, true insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

H The Wise Men Say podcast is available every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.