The Celtic and Tottenham loanees who could cause Sunderland problems plus how Mikael Mandron and Callum McFadzean have fared at Crewe
Sunderland will be hoping to make it back-to-back wins when they travel to Crewe tonight – but what can Lee Johnson’s side expect from The Alex?
David Artell’s side finished 12th in League One last season but have won just one of their 12 league matches this term, and dropped to 23rd in the table.
To find out more about Sunderland’s next opponents, we caught up with Stuart Price from The Railwaymen Podcast to get the inside track.
How have Crewe fared so far this season?
SP: “It’s been a very frustrating first quarter of the season for The Alex. Having lost a lot of players over the summer fans were under no illusion that this was always going to be a tricky second season, back in League One, however very few Crewe fans thought at this stage of the season we would be sitting 23rd in the table with only a solitary league win to show for ourselves.”
Where has it been going wrong?
SP: “Losing four key academy players from the promotion season (Perry Ng, Harry Pickering, Ryan Wintle and Charlie Kirk) before one more going on strike and getting a deadline day move to Blackpool – Owen Dale, add a final one not playing due to him not signing a new contract – Tommy Lowery and it all starts to paint a picture of why the team is struggling.
"On top of all that, not one, but two players who signed in the summer have subsequently retired from professional football (Shaun MacDonald and Tommie Hoban).”
What formation are Crewe likely to play?
SP: “Could be anything, last season I could confidently predict Crewe would be playing 4-3-3 every game. It’s been a bit different this season, with a variety of positions tried as the team has struggled for points.
"Against the teams competing at the top end of the table this season Dave Artell has gone with a 5-2-3, so let’s go with that.”
Who are the players Sunderland will need to keep an eye on?
SP: “It’s tricky at the moment, the team are not performing well, so there hasn’t really been any stand out players this year.
"I think if I had to pick someone, maybe a couple of the loan signings, firstly, J’Neil Bennett – on loan from Spurs. He’s a pacy winger, who is able to pull off a trick or two. He’s shown it in fits and starts so far, but he’s very young. This is his first loan spell, and he’s in a struggling team. Fun fact, he was the first player to score a goal at the new Spurs stadium.”
“The other loan signing would be Scott Robertson, from Celtic. He has all the attributes to become a top class centre midfielder, however, again, he is in a struggling team and is having to learn how he can influence games with the team scrapping for points.
“I don’t like not suggesting an academy player as that is what we are all about at Crewe, so I’ll say Rio Adebisi, a left-back making his first real full season. He could, be playing a little higher up the league structure in a few seasons time. (Also, proudly sponsored by the Railwaymen Podcast).
Crewe have a couple of former SAFC players in Mikael Mandron and Callum McFadzean - how have they fared?
SP: “When I asked the lads at the Roker Report for a few words on Callum McFadzean they described him as Sunderland’s worst player in their worst ever team. Having seen him play for Crewe that seems harsh, but I would suggest the threshold for the two clubs are very different.
"He’s been used sparingly, Adebisi is ahead of him at the moment, but there’s a chance he could be playing Tuesday night, if Rio plays right back.
“Mika has probably not played as much as he would have liked and when he has it probably isn’t in the correct position. I really like what he brings to the team, in terms of hold up play and linking.
"He really seemed to be kicking on with his finishing last year too, so to be in and out of the team so much at the moment will, I imagine it will be frustrating him.”
Finally, can you have a go at a predicted line-up?
SP: “5-2-3 (Right to left) Jaaskelainen, Ramsay, Offord, Daniels, Thomas, Adebisi, Robertson, Murphy, Kashket, Mandron, Bennett.”