Wise Men Say: Positive response is the only way to appease fans

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We’ve had many relegation ‘six-pointers’ over the years here on Wearside, but I have to say, I take some solace in the fact that a few of them were in the division below when I was growing up.

No matter how bad things have been in the past, it doesn’t detract the right for paying customers to have a good old moan at a poor home performance in games we should be winning, especially when they’re starting to creep in with alarming regularity.

Granted, it can be difficult to balance your desire for a short-term entertainment fix with seeing the big picture as a football fan.

We tried to decide this week whether or not this Sunderland side is a work in progress. We’re inclined to say yes, and Poyet certainly has our full support.

But it’s hard to argue with the thousands of despondent fans last weekend, trudging away from the Stadium of Light with their collective bottom lips poking out.

Yes, we’re still in the cup, and I think we’ll come through the game at Fulham too. But it was supposed to be the tactical stepping stone from the Spurs game to this one; the free pass for the players to sus the new system.

Instead we got a lopsided formation which altered slightly, but significantly, from the previous game.

This resulted in a negative set-up that failed to beat poor opposition. This in turn then led to Poyet making some potentially inflammatory comments about the fans’ expectations.

Now, we’ve had an in-house debate on those comments here at Wise Men Say Towers, and reading them in context certainly dilutes the severity of them. And though we each see them slightly differently, we’re all agreed on one thing; win this game and it’s not even an issue.

Managers can make mistakes or errors of judgement as much as the rest of us, and the gaffer will surely revert to the exact system he played at Spurs as a result of his mistake.

There’s still the option of another change too, I’ve been pushing forward the merits of a diamond formation recently.

Whatever system is actually employed will very much be in its infancy, something which polarises the approach of our opposition this weekend.

Burnley will arrive on Wearside with a settled side, with each player fully understanding their individual role and responsibilities.

Sean Dyche’s men know their limitations and their aims for this season, while the home side are suffering their umpteenth identity crisis in recent years.

It could make for a very nervy afternoon at The Stadium of Light. I suggested when Jermain Defoe was brought to the club that we were about to find out exactly how good a coach Poyet is.

It takes guts for any manager to rip up and start again, especially when the changes are brought about to accommodate one specific player.

Another part of that is getting his players to react to any sort of setback in games, whether that be going a goal down or the crowd getting restless at misplaced passes.

We’re due a home win through the law of averages, right?


H The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Gus Poyet. You can be stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.