Written by Neil Dawson
MOTM against Southampton
Ultimately – if you stumble on a formation that turns your side from Sunderland (2016 to 2020) into one more than capable of a mid-table finish and you choose to return to the impotent one for the most important game of your season then you don’t deserve to stay in the top flight. Eddie survives for me on ability and because he is the best championship manager option for us and I’m old-fashioned when it comes to loyalty for an incredible achievement but not for anything this year.
We are not world-beaters whatever formation we play because we have lost zip and energy and belief. However, we have two formations at play, one that just stretches the team and makes us less likely to have a shot and more open to conceding. The other allows us to go up the pitch together, not be opened up between the lines and gets triangles into the oppositions penalty area. The lack of zip and energy still exists with a five-man midfield and the personnel still misfire, I’m not claiming it to be mecca – but it keeps us in games. Only Eddie knows why his dogged obsession with a dated formation that served him so well in a different era of the game keeps coming back to cloud his judgement but ultimately it will define his career as well as the future of the club he loves and has put in the spotlight.
Also, it blunts the potential of his side’s shining light – Brooks, a player that can take teams apart on the edge of, or in, the box but one relegated to chasing full-backs up and down the pitch. Whether Harry Wilson could blossom in this position as he did in the Championship, I’m not as sure – but we will now never know as once again he was played in a position where he will never shine, and once again he didn’t. This is what happens when formations, philosophies and structures are more important than the 15 bodies staring back at you on a training pitch.
Then ultimately the final breakdown of decent leadership with a Sunday League style attempt to get back in a game that the players clearly don’t understand and against an in-form side that’s well drilled in their own way of playing is just soccer suicide (one for our new American fans).
A wasted, opportunity in a season that rattles on because of the paucity of quality in the teams around us. Despite the fact that every chance has been afforded us in this lock-down we have taken it away with a series of baffling decisions that started with two right-footers on the left, persisted with a determination to play Brooks and Callum into form and is completed now with the abolition of the one formation that had chances. Shambolic – and a series of decisions that I fear, barring the last day win miracle that I will now spend the week convincing myself about, Eddie and us will always regret.
But, there may be a last day miracle – and if we are saving ourselves for it and deliver it will top many of the stories that have gone before it. I can’t see it now – but ask me again Thursday……….
Personally, I lost count of the number of corners and set pieces we totally wasted against a Saints defence who kept us out with little trouble. It just showcased our lack of critical finishing in the final third which has been our problem all season.
Callum Wilson‘s form has been so poor, I doubt any club in the top tear would want to buy him. Josh still has potential, but it’s obvious he doesn’t want to stay at cherries. No doubt in my mind that horrible injuries and senior players not performing to their potential have ruined our season, I just hope Eddie will stay with us if we go down.