Wise Men Say: Team selection casts more doubts on David Moyes

David Moyes
David Moyes
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In the 86th minute, Sunderland had the chance to launch a dangerous counter attack when Jordan Pickford tossed the ball to Adnan Januzaj.

The winger, who had been The Black Cats’ only creative outlet throughout the entire game, received the ball on the half way line, only to be surrounded by three Burnley players.

With no red and white shirts in support, Januzaj was forced to play a tricky pass along the wet surface to Jason Denayer, whose poor touch allowed Sam Vokes to wrestle the ball from his grasp.

It led to Pickford having to pull off an excellent save from Vokes’s effort, in a move that summed up Sunderland’s afternoon and possibly, their season. A great chance to capitalise, ended in near disaster.

In fact, “near disaster” would be a godsend at this point, as David Moyes’ Sunderland look like a team without a prayer. A Burnley side who haven’t won away all season, left the Stadium of Light feeling aggrieved they hadn’t left with their first away win of the campaign.

Sure, there were flurries from The Lads. Billy Jones missed a chance so easy it’ll probably grace Danny Baker dvds for years to come and Fabio Borini rolled an effort straight at Tom Heaton, from an angle reminiscent the Italian’s goal at Wembley just three years ago. Any winner would have papered over the Moyes-shaped cracks though.

The team selection did nothing to reaffirm the supporters’ faith in the manager. Didier Ndong was a glaring omission from the starting line-up, with the tarantula-haired midfielder being far and away the best available Sunderland middle man.

Moyes has often said his reason for not starting Wahbi Khazri is due to his inability to work hard and retain possession. So why drop Ndong? The player who is undoubtedly one of the best Sunderland players at keeping the ball and constantly grafts when the opposition have the ball.

When you see such hypocrisy, it’s hard to believe that Moyes isn’t anything other than a fraud living on borrowed time. Khazri got 12 minutes, where he was expected to change the game but that was always insurmountable. As is the task of keeping Sunderland in the Premier League.

Ellis Short’s Spaghetti Western trigger finger may have been twitching as he watched from the stands but he’s all to aware of the bed he has to sprawl in (an appropriate metaphor given the monotony of the first half, where even the Chairman’s wife struggled to keep her eyes open).

To show another gaffer the door now wouldn’t just be a further public humiliation to the owner, after proclaiming Moyes was the man he’d wanted for years, it would cast further doubts to the club accounts. With three years left on his contract and a CEO who has often publicly given him his full support, Moyes is arguably one of the safest managers in the league. How depressing is that?

He doesn’t look like the man capable of leading us in The Championship, never mind keep us up this season.

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