Wise Men Say: Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland line up will be fascinating

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I remember trying to convince people that we were doing all right in the first few months of Gus Poyet’s reign.

My rationale was that because we were so rooted to the bottom on the day of his arrival, it was fairer to create a league table of games since he took over. That suggested our real worth in the league under his stewardship.

He actually liked the idea of it, but acknowledged that it counted for nothing come May, and the fact of the matter is you have to be better than average if you’re to make up so many lost points.

If we take Sam Allardyce’s first three games, we have three points from three games. Roy Keane always said that was the target for sides near the bottom, a point-per-game.

Yet Sunderland are still a way off that because of a similarly awful points tally to that of the one Poyet inherited from Paolo Di Canio.

So should Southampton leave Wearside with the points tomorrow, then that tricky looking Christmas period looks even trickier.

For all the positive signs from Big Sam’s early work, and there were some even in a 6-2 defeat, unless it translates into points then we’re in for another long and depressing season.

Something we bemoaned this week was how easy Arouna Kone’s first goal was, the way he managed to slice through the defence with a very much laboured looking ‘give and go’.

We then referenced Southampton as a side who move the ball around a lot quicker.

What a great time to play them then.

I am certain that Big Sam will have had his players working tirelessly this week to try and rectify those defensive frailties so evident at Goodison Park.

Yet regardless of whether or not he sticks with that much discussed three at the back formation, the possible return of O’Shea and Kaboul will automatically improve things in that area.

Once the decision is made on the defensive shape, we have the whole conundrum of getting Steven Fletcher and Jermaine Defoe into the same side.

If the formation remains unchanged, then it’s not so much of a conundrum at all, but if it’s back to a flat back four then I’ll be fascinated to see how, if at all, Sam gets that partnership onto the pitch.

After the Newcastle and Everton games, it would be some decision not to find a way to make that the case.

Fabio Borini will fancy his chances to start if he’s fit, despite another encouraging substitute performance from Duncan Watmore.

Jeremain Lens will surely feel he has something to offer after missing out last week.

Jack Rodwell has now publicly thrown his hat into the ring for a centre-half position.

Lee Cattermole’s likely absence means that wait may go on a little longer should Allardyce continue to decide Seb Larsson isn’t a central midfielder.

I’ve convinced myself it’s better to ignore the fact Southampton look like a very good team and instead focus on the fascination of what the starting eleven will be for Sunderland.