Niall Quinn is right - Jack Ross could learn from Sam Allardyce to get things right at Sunderland
Sunderland legend Niall Quinn recently told the Echo he’d like to see Jack Ross take some steps towards emulating Wearside success story Sam Allardyce.
“Over the years we’ve seen different styles of football brought in to the club and it’s been a little bit of a struggle,” said Quinn.
“Sam Allardyce’s team looked to have a little bit of what Sunderland fans expect to have in their team."
And Quinn raises an excellent point.
If Sunderland’s Scottish supremo is to become one of the club’s few recent modern success stories, he could learn a lot from the former England boss’ short stint at the Stadium of Light.
A key characteristic of Allardyce’s management was his cajoling of a fairly limited group (by Premier League standards). Although basic footballers, in the sense of playing the ball out from the back, central defenders Younes Kaboul, Lamine Kone and John O’Shea were organised, solid and functional – and, crucially, they played to their strengths.
Ross must find consistent performers in his backline, which may mean moving Jack Baldwin and Tom Flanagan on after mediocre seasons.
Sunderland need defenders primarily fit for the purpose of not conceding goals. If that means the passing-out-from-the-back style Ross implemented last campaign falls by the wayside then so be it.
In 2016, the midfield combination of Jan Kirchoff and Yan M’Villa allowed for classy yet sturdy platform, permitting Allardyce an opportunity to map a system which allowed Jermain Defoe to fire on all cylinders.
Now, we all know Will Grigg - who has spent the majority of his career in League One - isn’t as talented as Defoe. However, at this level, the former Wigan striker is prolific when provided with opportunities.
The Northern Ireland international, signed for £3m plus add-ons, isn’t going anywhere soon, meaning Sunderland need to provide a structure for Grigg to flourish in if they’re to clinch promotion to the Championship.
Substance over style probably best sums up Allardyce’s time at the Stadium of Light - the laying of solid foundations allowed a framework for superior creative players to excel in attack.
Something Sunderland desperately need if they’re to right the wrongs of last season’s heart break.