Wise Men Say: Sunderland's lack of pace off the bench is a concern if Plan A is not working
Last night’s win against Tranmere was the epitome of a groundout victory, on a pitch that so closely resembled a beach you almost expected David Hasselhoff and Yasmine Bleeth to stride past in red swimsuits en-route to rescuing a stranded child.
Certainly anyone watching that turgid first half would have welcomed any sort of rescue mission, such was the sloppiness of Sunderland‘s play and the persistence of Tranmere’s pressing, not forgetting the aforementioned sandpit pitch, on which, both sides struggled to play.
In the second half, truthfully little changed.
The surging runs of Denver Hume, the industry of Lynden Gooch and the creativity of Chris Maguire that have typified Sunderland's performances of late were all largely absent.
It took Charlie Wyke, who was kept quiet for the most part by the towering Manny Monthe, to edge ahead of his marker and plant a header past Davies in the Tranmere goal.
Monthe was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence with five minutes to go but Sunderland were happy to see out a 1-0 victory with the closing stages mainly consisting of Wyke and O'Nien shepherding the ball into the corner.
It wasn't pretty and it could have easily gone another way, but Sunderland defended solidly, got their goal and saw out the win.
We have gone from resounding victories and swashbuckling performances to grinding out wins in stifling conditions which is no bad thing and what teams aiming for promotion have to do during a long season.
However, it is concerning that Parkinson seems set on one way of playing and shows no desire to deviate from that, even when his side are struggling during a game.
The January signings made so far make perfect sense for fitting into that system but the lack of other options is a little alarming and when Watmore is out injured there is a distinct lack of pace to come off the bench.
Last night it didn't matter, Plan A was enough, but against stronger opposition like Portsmouth on Saturday, will it continue to be?