Wise Men Say: Time for Sunderland to be proactive in Villa crunch

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THAT Jermain Defoe goal against Burnley seems like such a long time ago now.

There we were, playing a new formation with a proven goalscorer and beating limited opposition comfortably without really getting out of second gear.

We are where we are and that, in my case, is wondering who on earth is going to turn up tomorrow and grab an extremely winnable game by the scruff of the neck.

It should be the norm for most established Premier League sides to do this at home.

Now, I’ve grown extremely weary of writing about the importance of chalking up routine looking home wins – but it keeps the fans largely happy and generally keeps you away from relegation trouble.

Do that and you don’t have a situation develop to a point that a club’s manager (or head coach) feels the need to pen a letter to the fans explaining himself over comments made in some sort of heat created by this regular post-match despondence.

Do that and you don’t go into game after game against sides around you in the table exclaiming that it’s a “must win” game.

I actually promised myself I’d get through this blog without using that very term. But this is Sunderland we’re talking about.

Even by our standards, I’m struggling to comprehend that had we beaten QPR following that Burnley game (and then a 1-1 draw at Swansea) then it would have seemed like we were flying – relatively speaking of course.

Nobody could argue that the mood on Wearside would have certainly been a lighter shade of grey anyway.

Who knows how we’d have fared against West Brom and Hull with the confidence of midtable obscurity powering the engine of our performance levels.

Meh. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

We are where we are and that, in my case, is wondering who on earth is going to turn up tomorrow and grab an extremely winnable game by the scruff of the neck.

Alarmingly, I can’t think of many contenders and that’s a tad depressing. Well. it’s a little more than a ‘tad’ depressing. Nay, it frightens the life out of me.

Because instead of going over Gus Poyet’s team selections, systems and formations, can we not just expect some of these players to puff out their chests and be a little proactive themselves?

It’s a sad state of affairs that a debate about whether or not Lee Cattermole’s suspension is timely or not is even active.

I’m certainly a member of the Catts Fan Club, but it shouldn’t be an issue in a game like this.

Yet, sadly, I think it is.

As it goes, I think a more adventurous and attacking Aston Villa side will suit the home side more this weekend.

I harbour some hope that a new-found confidence in our opponents is a little misguided.

I hope it proves to be naive by thinking you’ll bear fruit by taking the game to your opponents at all times.

Maybe that view on Villa is a little ignorant, but that’s certainly the way Tim Sherwood talks the talk.

I think all the sides around us in the table are clinging to the fact that Paul Lambert took a cautious approach for a very good reason, and that his side have turned into perennial strugglers because they aren’t all that.

But we aren’t all that either. Or are we? Could we be?

Who wants to be the guy that saves this game from being last on Match of the Day tomorrow night?

Let’s hope he’s wearing red and white.

* 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.