Slaven Bilic sums up Sunderland’s problems – could he recommend anyone for job?

Slaven Bilic
Slaven Bilic
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Slaven Bilic spoke very well after the game on Saturday.

He was calm but you could see the fire burning behind his eyes; he was passionate but articulate, disappointed yet philosophical.

Steven Fletcher celebrates with Jeremain Lens after Sunderland's second goal

Steven Fletcher celebrates with Jeremain Lens after Sunderland's second goal

In the immediate aftermath of a Premier League fixture, being calm and philosophical is not as easy as you may think.

Now, we at WMS are as guilty as anybody of providing deep analysis of football games.

It’s a fun and interesting exercise to listen to others think outside the box and conclude why certain things happen on the football field.

When you aren’t losing every week, anyway.

If Steven Fletcher is capable of leading the line as he did on Saturday, why do we never see it?

Yet while we’ve witnessed numerous managers – Advocaat included – drop tactical clangers left, right and centre, often the problems on the field can be simplified.

Listening to Bilic post-match hammered home this fact.

He praised Sunderland for an excellent opening 43 minutes but pointed out that any game can be salvaged if players are prepared to put in all the “dirty work”.

He commented on how his players tried to win more second balls in the second half, how they tracked their men and how they made runs off the ball.

He acknowledged that the goal just before half-time made it easier for him to demand this from them during the break and I immediately thought back to how different things could have been for us at Bournemouth had Jermain Defoe took that gilt-edged chance, or if Jeremain Lens’ goal had stood as it should have done.

But we can’t hide behind “what ifs” when analysing what exactly it is that’s forced the latest manager out the door.

This player application that Bilic speaks of, however, is something we question often and it’s been far more of a problem then tactical ineptitude.

If Steven Fletcher is capable of leading the line as he did on Saturday, why do we never see it?

He could have prevented all sorts of problems; he could have even saved Gus Poyet’s job.

But, so not to single him out, it’s a collective issue that’s been driving us mad here at WMS Towers for too long.

Why do players playing for our club conclude that 100 per cent effort, 100 per cent desire and 100 per cent concentration should only be applied when there’s a backs-against-the-wall situation?

We’re sick of it.

The whole ‘should we’ or ‘shouldn’t we’ have a Director of Football debate seems pointless when every single manager/head coach/sporting director scratches their head at the lack of collective work ethic displayed by players representing our football team.

There appears to be no reasonable or logical explanation for it.

So where the club should go from here is a bit of a conundrum, even for us prolific football thinkers. Imagine the conversations going on in a boardroom where football knowledge is in short supply?

It hardly fills you full of confidence.

I wonder if Slaven Bilic could recommend someone?

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.