Sunderland flicker wards off certain doom but tactical carnage must stop; 5 morning-after thoughts

It's difficult to see how Sunderland could have roused themselves to go again in t

by Brandon_Rawlin Sunday, 11 February 2018 07:34 AM Comments
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Just as the curtain looked certain to come down on Sunderland's survival hopes, a faint flicker of life was enough to rescue an unlikely point. But is it enough? Five morning-after thoughts on Bristol City 3 - Sunderland 3. 

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Tactical carnage has to stop

It kind of goes without saying that a football club without the budget to buy the personnel needed to fit the manager's preferred style of play, will probably struggle to perform the manager's preferred style of play. But unless Sunderland can sort out the weekly in-game tactical massacre, League One will continue to beckon. 

Chris Coleman opted to stick with the five-man defence he's tended to abandon mid-game in recent weeks for yesterday's trip to Bristol; but after a first half hammering the boss opted to ditch it once again. And, surprise surprise, Sunderland suddenly looked much better for going with a flat back four.

This tendency to get it wrong at kick-off and have to fix it mid-game has not been a feature unique to Coleman's rein either as Simon Grayson struggled to select a system suited to his personnel. Lacking the pace at wing-back to make the system work, surely a 4-2-3-1 formation will be the plan to get at Brentford next week. 

So there is some balls in the squad after all

Sunderland rarely come from behind to get anything out of a game with most fixtures marred by a depressing finality once the opposition score. But to come back from three-goals down at least shows there is a collective set of balls within the Black Cats ranks. 

This season has been marked by perpetual false dawns with fans clinging onto all sorts of events which were supposed to galvanise the team - only for us to be let down again. 

The Gibson rant, the Grayson sacking, the Rodwell saga and the recent threat of protest - all were supposed to stir the squad's juices into launching a survival fight, and so far each has failed to have any lasting impact. Perhaps a light bulb finally switched on in the heads of the Sunderland players yesterday - but few will be putting any money on it just yet. 

What's Joel Asoro worth now then?

It looks very much like this season will prove to be a breakthrough one for Joel Asoro. And the 18-year-old added to his slowly building hype by proving to be roughly the best player on the park at Ashton Gate yesterday. 

Constantly taking players on and looking to make something happen, if Martin Bain was watching on his eyes will have lit up at the prospect of how much Asoro could be worth in the summer. The young attacking maestro could yet keep Sunderland in this league, but you just know he'll be flogged as soon as a decent offer comes in. 

Bryan Oviedo warming up for the World Cup by turning to sh!t

"Inconsistent" would perhaps be a generous description of Bryan Oviedo's form since he returned from injury in December - "crap" would probably be more accurate. And so it proved again yesterday. 

The Costa Rican - who will feature at this summer's World Cup - was tortured again by Bristol City - as he had been at Birmingham and Cardiff in recent weeks to name but two occasions.

If the South American nation have folks coming over to watch the left back in action ahead of Russia 2018, Oviedo will be lucky to even make the squad on this form. Sunderland instantly looked better when he went off - and his withdrawal coincided with the Black Cats revival. 

Gotta get some wins

Sunderland have now won fewer games than anyone else in the Championship and conventional wisdom suggests the Black Cats will have to secure victories in around half of the fixtures remaining to avoid the drop into League One. 

The saving grace may yet be how poor everyone else in the lower reaches of this division are proving to be. But it was Hull's turn to pick up a win yesterday as Burton, Barnsley and Bolton all secured a point to match Sunderland. Birmingham are in action at Villa later and admittedly Steve Bruce could do us a favour. 

Now worse off than we had been at kick-off, there's three points between us and the division's safety zone now. Losing to Brentford next week is simply not an option. 

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