Sense of bewilderment how Sunderland have evolved – but new formation offers hope

Wahbi Khazri and John O'Shea impressed
Wahbi Khazri and John O'Shea impressed
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I said prior to the Palace game that I wouldn’t be surprised to see us lose that one before drawing at home to West Brom, in what would be the latest of one of these “must-win” games we’ve found ourselves accustomed to over the last few years.

I was hoping I’d be wrong, of course, and take no pleasure from the fact that I wasn’t. But we see it season in, season out, and you just wonder when the breaking point will be for the 40,000 that turn up to watch the constant cycle of disappointment.

I’m trying to draw some positives from the game and from our situation; anything that will prevent me from having a rant about the worrying predicament we are undoubtedly in. John O’Shea played well and our defence looked a hundred times better than it’s been in his absence.

Though Wahbi Khazri divides opinion, I thought he played well too. Fans have been calling for the recall of both players and those calls seem justified now, something that is hardly likely to ease the frustration of losing some of the games we have.

There is an overwhelming sense of bewilderment as to how the team that finished last season so strongly has evolved into this one.

The improvement of the side when finishing the game in a sort of 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation offers some hope. Jermain Defoe suddenly didn’t seem so isolated and it plays to the strengths of Patrick van Aanholt. Quite how we’ve found ourselves in a position to consider van Aanholt so vital as an attacking threat is another matter – but, again, I’m going to refrain from ranting about letting attacking first team players leave on deadline day and failing to bring in replacements.

When we already needed to improve in that area as it was, I may add.

Three at the back may also offer some protection for someone like O’Shea when he comes up against quicker and more mobile players than Rondon, and it might just drag us 10 or 15 yards further up the field.

Jan Kirchhoff’s injury seems disappointing on the face of it, but in reality he’s been poor this season, for whatever reason that may be.

That said, we are hardly in a position to be shrugging our shoulders at players finding themselves on the treatment table, our squad is obviously paper thin.

The patience in the stands is close to being at paper thin levels too and now there’s a fortnight to stew over the trip to the other winless side in the league for another one of these “must win” games.

Oh, the joys.