Back in August I did a review on what I thought of Simon Graysons performances so far as Sunderland manager, 2 draws and 1 win seemed a pretty decent start for a team in financial ruin . But it soon fell apart rather quickly, defeats to teams like Bristol, and draws to teams like Bolton and meant he had to go, and 10 minutes after the draw to Bolton he was gone. So who would take the role of managing the circus that is Sunderland AFC?
After weeks of speculating, Chris Coleman was unveiled as Sunderland manager, he’s done incredible for Wales but his club management history wasn’t so good. It was quite a big risk and we still don’t know if he’ll be the man to keep us up but the signs are promising. Currently he’s on 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses, and with the squad we’ve got I still thinks that’s a fantastic record so far, so what’s changed? The players under Grayson are still there, so what has changed? Let’s take a look at first the tactics side of the new manager
Under Grayson we’d continually smash the ball up towards our lone striker, Moyes did this and to an extent under Big Sam as well but what the difference is between that under Sam it wasn’t aimless, Ruiter smashing the ball towards Grabban in hope we’d get lucky and he’d receive it was pointless and it kept happening. It worked the first few games because teams weren’t sure how we’d play, eventually they sussed us out and it all went to pot .
Under Coleman however he wants to install a philosophy that you don’t have to panic and smash the ball in hope of reaching your team mate, and it showed in the game for example against Burton, it took a while but we eventually broke Burton down and scored 2 very important goals.
In his first game against Villa you could see it almost working, he just needed more time and I think if he came in a bit earlier we could have got a result there. After Burton was Reading at home, again we played decent football up until McManaman got himself sent off with an incredibly stupid handball and we collapsed and lost 3-1.
The next game was against Wolves, a team that’s pretty much promoted already, 10 points clear of 3rd, this game for the majority of Sunderland fans was a write off, I think what most Sunderland fans thought was hopefully to try and weather the storm and not concede too many. However Sunderland had a game plan, and although it’s deemed incredibly unpopular, it worked. Sunderland parked the bus, Wolves couldn’t get past any of our defenders, they were quickly shut down, O’shea maybe in decline but he proved exactly why he’s been chosen for years by various Sunderland managers. He was calm and made sure the back 4 knew exactly what they were doing.
Cattermole almost messed things up getting himself sent off with 2 bookings with a minute of each other, but we held on and got a very valuable point. It was far from a pretty performance but it got us that point.
The next game was very important for lots of reasons, firstly we needed a win, teams around us were picking up points and secondly if we failed to beat Fulham it’d be a full calendar year without a win at home.
We started off very strongly, forcing their keeper to make a save within 60 seconds. Slowly though Fulham started coming into the game, but unlike previous games, Sunderland wouldn’t die, we wanted that win. Another thing I’ve noticed is Coleman has put faith in the youngsters, and they’ve been a huge help. Asoro got the assist against Burton for Honeymans goal who is another youngster who has performed great for us since coming into the team. Anyway 70th minute Coleman brought on Asoro and Maja both youngsters who haven’t had their proper chances yet under previous managers
75th minute though, the ball was passed through to Maja who slotted it past Bettinelli. Sunderland were winning at home! Coleman had broken the voodoo, after almost a year Sunderland had actually won a game at home. But tactics isn’t the only other thing that Chris Coleman has brought in, I’ll be looking into more of that in part two