Tactically inept & getting no better; three more big reasons to fear for Sunderland after QPR mess

There aren't many Sunderland supporters who can look themselves in the mirror this morning and utter that they retain belief in Simon Grayson without bursting out laughing. 

Grayson may have suggested Sunderland are making "small steps" of progress following yesterday's 1-1 draw with QPR but most of the hardy souls who turned out at the Stadium of Light will have seen precious little sign of that improvement.

Instead there are yet more reasons to fear Sunderland may yet succumb to the double-drop and dip into League One without a significant upturn in tactical nous and cohesion on the pitch. 

This Sunday catalogue of concern is growing by the week with little in the way of true positives to counter it. Here are this week's additions. 

Tactically inept with players who can't fathom what he wants them to do

Whatever system Simon Grayson thinks he's unleashing on the opposition, it seems clear his players have little understanding of what it actually is. 

Lining up in a 4-4-2 but with James Vaughan, Duncan Watmore and Aiden McGeady rotating position going forward in a 4-3-3  in the opening exchanges, Grayson had reverted back to the 4-2-3-1 he tends to hide behind when the going gets tough later in the game. 

This constant chopping, changing and backtracking is aiding no one, least of all those who turn out in a red-and-white shirt. 

Alarmingly, Sunderland's players were regular visitors to his technical area particularly in the first half seemingly querying who was supposed to be playing where. 

After they should have been afforded the chance to regroup at half-time and receive an update from the manager, the sheer slap-stick way in which the Black Cats performed immediately after the break was laughable such was the disarray and panic Grayson had seemingly instilled in them at the interval. 

The relentless tinkering and confusion now means no one who watches, coaches or plays for Sunderland has any idea of the club's best XI or tactical system in which to deploy it, least of all the manager. Grayson's tactical ineptitude is holding back what should in reality be one of the better squads in the Championship. 

Defensively dire

With still no sign of a settled back-line now that a quarter of the season has now gone, Sunderland continue to gift the opposition goals from their own stupidity rather than any threat posed from the team they're facing. 

QPR are clearly no great shakes but looked like they could fashion a scoring opportunity every time they came forward. The nervousness in the Black Cats back line is so contagious it has infected every stand at the Stadium of Light and this cross contamination of panic simply must be eradicated. 

Sunderland need leaders at the back but possess none. Even the usually calm Bryan Oviedo had become exasperated by the second half as the home rear guard cast increasingly befuddled glances at each other. 

Can't take set-pieces and can't defend them 

With a goalkeeper who couldn't command a lap dog never mind his box and a striker who goes to ground all too easily in a bid to overcome his inability to fashion anything proper, this Sunderland side give the appearance of one who simply don't bother with set-piece drills on the training pitch during the week. 

Sunderland can't effectively take dead-balls nor defend them and had fifteen corners yesterday - that's one every six minutes -  yet didn't look like troubling Smithies in the QPR goal from the majority. 

With set-pieces over hit with regularity and seemingly no one offering themselves to aim at, John O'Shea was the only competent header of the ball in the Black Cats ranks and with just three goals in his 190 appearances since arriving on Wearside, the veteran defender is not going to trouble any defence much. 

At the other end, Jason Steele in the Sunderland goal gives the appearance of a man frightened of the ball and decent teams in the Championship will always arrive with a set-piece drill in their armoury. QPR's goal naturally came from a corner with the Black Cats keeper boxed in by his own players and James Vaughan proving incompetent in marking the Hoops scorer. 

With the QPR dead ball opportunity which led to the goal needlessly conceded by Didier Ndong's idiotic header, the sheer lack of intelligence in this thickest of teams would be quite something to behold if it wasn't so utterly depressing. 

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