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Room for optimism??

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Room for optimism??

Post  Kipper on 2018-01-31, 12:34 pm

Seems like a balanced article to me while looking for some rays of hope:

Ovie Ejaria's arrival at Sunderland could signal a slight tweak in Chris Coleman's thinking
There has been no let-up for some Sunderland players this season, but the loan signing of Ovie Ejaria could bring some midfield respite

Stuart Rayner

  • 11:17, 31 JAN 2018


Ovie Ejaria poses a threat to George Honeyman and Ethan Robson. But Sunderland’s deadline-day signing could be a help too.

Honeyman and Robson have had a good January, their vitality big highlights of the important victory over Hull City.

Robson had not played first-team football until 2018, Honeyman has been doing it all season. Robson made his full debut against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, and has played all but nine minutes of football since. Honeyman has played 31 matches this season and has only been off the field for 11 minutes of football under manager Chris Coleman .

The arrival of 20-year-old Ejaria on loan from Liverpool means their places are no longer guaranteed. He can play Robson’s orthodox midfield role or Honeyman’s slightly more advanced one. Liverpool have not sent their England Under-20 international to not play games. One of the reasons he came to Sunderland will have been the promise of more game-time than he would get at other, more comfortably-placed clubs.
But competition can be a good thing. Honeyman has already shown he is made of the right stuff mentally, and knowing he has to perform to keep his place should help, not hinder him.
It should also help the Black Cats. There are still some in the old school befuddled by the mere suggestion that professional footballers cannot play twice or even a week, particularly young whipper-snappers. They can. Honeyman shows that.

But in 21st century football everyone else is using their squad to rotate and bring freshness to their line-up. Players might be able to play every few days but if they are giving their all in each of those matches, as well they should, but they cannot be expected to do so with the same intensity and energy as the person opposite them who has taken a breather during the last game.

His squad small and beset by injuries, partly through the half-heartedness of certain senior players whose pain threshold has not always appeared to be where it ought to be, Coleman has had very few options to change things up since he took over as manager. Too often you have looked at the bench during a game, knowing a change was needed, and seen no one capable of delivering it.
“We’ve just got to find solutions, whether that’s keeping players out of the treatment for longer lengths or time or just keep on chopping and changing because we’re struggling to get one winning performance on the back of another one,” Coleman said after Sunderland once more failed to follow up victory over Hull with another against Birmingham City. “Maybe we have to chop and change the team around, I don’t know that.”

Ejaria’s arrival ought to allow that, in midfield at least. If Jonny Williams were to get fit he would not only bring even more competition but extra quality too. That, though, is a big if.
Lamine Kone’s return to fitness could help too if he is still a Sunderland player on February 1, and sound of mind as well as body.
Kone made a surprise return to the line-up at St Andrew’s on Tuesday, taking the place of the ill John O’Shea. Those two, Jake Clarke-Salter and Tyias Browning are all options to play in a back three. When Coleman decided Clarke-Salter had taken enough punishment from Birmingham’s bruisers, he may well have switched to a back four anyway, but the lack of a centre-back left him with no choice.
However once O’Shea gets off his sick bed – and the 36-year-old’s appearance record this season shows he is not one of the lilly-livered – Coleman should have options. Admittedly, Kone’s jarred knee – he was also limping through the last quarter of an hour of the first half with what looked like a minor muscle strain – might delay that moment a bit longer.
Marc Wilson also offers extra experience at the back, or in the holding midfield role which will allow Honeyman, Robson, Ejaria and Lynden Gooch to do their own thing, but like Williams he has found himself at Sunderland because of his unreliable fitness.

What Coleman will be desperately trying to do is to get those same options at the sharp end of the field.
Josh Maja and Joel Asoro have done sterling work as centre-forwards but both are still learning their games in football’s most rotated position. Kazenga LuaLua has come in to offer a plan B but he is a maverick, perhaps a better option to come off the bench and throw things into confusion rather than a starter you can necessarily hang your hat on. To be blunt, there is a reason he was a free agent but so was Victor Anichebe last year, and Sunderland (briefly) got some good value out of him.
Part of the difficulty is that Maja and Asoro look more comfortable playing as a pair, rather than as a lone striker. With the potential extra midfield strength, 3-4-2-1 might suit more than 3-4-1-2 at times.
But at least in the engine room, it looks like Coleman should be able to do a bit more recharging in the second half of the season.
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Re: Room for optimism??

Post  cyprussyd on 2018-01-31, 12:43 pm

Yes a good article, enjoyed reading that.

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Re: Room for optimism??

Post  sunderpitt on 2018-01-31, 1:23 pm

We can but hope?
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Re: Room for optimism??

Post  Hieronymus on 2018-01-31, 3:41 pm

Good article. Thanks for posting Very Happy
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Re: Room for optimism??

Post  Mackemneil on 2018-01-31, 4:12 pm


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Re: Room for optimism??

Post  Nostalgic on 2018-01-31, 10:08 pm

Mackemneil wrote:like
If we weren't optimists we would not be on here. So long as hope does not disappear.
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Re: Room for optimism??

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