VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE: ‘Notion of Sunderland fielding five defenders strangled at birth’

Jermain Defoe celebrates his goal against Burnley. Picture by Frank Reid
Jermain Defoe celebrates his goal against Burnley. Picture by Frank Reid
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SUNDERLAND’S victory over Burnley is the only topic that football fans around the world wanted to talk about – until the fun and games at Craven Cottage.

We shall allow you to form your own squabbles about the FA Cup and concentrate for now upon what the chaps have done so far in the league this season; namely the bare minimum.

They have 23 points from 23 games and a point per game has been sufficient to avoid relegation in 10 of the past 11 seasons.

Of Sunderland’s four entire wins, the weekend’s was the most important. We know which of the other three was your favourite, but the Burnley game was vital.

Perhaps the most reassuring aspect of Saturday was that the notion of fielding five defenders has been strangled at birth. Well I call it fielding five defenders. Some may call it 3-5-2. Others may call it 3-2-1-3-1. We all called it tedious. It should be noted that both the Wickham and Defoe goals were created by full-backs playing in an orthodox back four.

As a spectacle, the Burnley match was no better than passable; or, in the context of this season, a classic. The performance did suggest that against most of the teams yet to visit the Stadium of Light this season, anything above ruddy awful should do.

No one has ever proposed kamikaze football, less still “kick and rush.” But being a little bolder and giving more opportunity to creative players is a well-worn suggestion and one which, hopefully, will be adopted in the final 15 fixtures. Especially in the seven remaining home games.

Ever grounded in realism, the fans are hoping that the remainder of the campaign is at least a bit less boring than what we have seen up to now.

In fact the club is missing a marketing trick. They should run a poster campaign imploring: “Buy your match tickets for the last seven games. It can’t be as boring as what we’ve seen up to now.” Heady days.

Sunderland have as much quality in their squad as half the teams in the Premier League. They just need to prove it.