There is no doubt that Sunderland manager Chris Coleman has had a positive impact on Sunderland fans since replacing former gaffer Simon Grayson. His upbeat attitude within his press conferences and interviews have been refreshing for the people of Wearside, but is the Welshman getting too much leeway despite Sunderland’s diabolical efforts this season?
Coleman has a win percentage of 23.5% since becoming manager of the lads back in November, that’s four wins from 17, the lowest of any of the former teams he’s previously managed at club level.
So why is it so many Sunderland fans believe that he is still the right man to take this club forward?
Maybe it’s because our previous managers have failed to inspire. Grayson looked out of his depth from the minute he was pictured with the infamous Sunderland scarf, and as for David Moyes – well he just failed to show any of the characteristics needed to manage a club the size of Sunderland.
However, despite Coleman’s undoubtable warm personality and willingness to want to make this work, he himself has questioned the players he must choose from week in week out and their drive to get our club out of the mess it’s in.
Clearly this season there has been numerous occasions when our players just simply have not been good enough – but in recent games I have begun to question Coleman’s tactics, his choice of personnel and even at times his choice of words in his press conferences.
Let’s start with his persistence with certain players and tactics of late. For me, it’s well overdue that John O’shea and Lee Cattermole were dropped from the side. O’shea just simply doesn’t have the legs any more, yet Coleman still plays him at the heart of our defence. Cattermole hasn’t cut it all season, despite a good start against Derby in our first home game.
I could sit here and name players who should and shouldn’t be in the team all day, but it’s down to Coleman to change the players who clearly either just aren’t up for the fight, or don’t have the ability. We have some good players in our side, it’s just about fitting them into a system that works.
That system for me is not with five defenders. Coleman is clearly a fan of that way of playing, but with the position we find ourselves in and our sheer inability to break teams down once we go behind, we can’t continue the trend of conceding early and then find ourselves chasing a game with five defenders.
I also feel there is a fine line between honest and too honest with us fans. In recent press conferences, Coleman has almost flirted with the idea of throwing players under the bus and rightly so after certain games – but the last pivotal game against Bolton which we lost, I feel Coleman’s tactics from the start played a big part in the final score.
For me, I think Coleman should revert to four-at-the-back, like he did against Brentford last week. We lost that game, but that came down to both personnel and being over ran in the midfield. Whilst four at the back is the answer, it should include Jake Clarke Salter and Lamine Kone at the heart, with Bryan Oviedo and Adam Matthews at either side. As well as three across the midfield and another three up front. I feel this would give us the perfect balance of defence and attack.
However, despite questions being asked about Coleman’s ability to lead this team forward and ultimately avoid relegation come May, for me he is the best option available to us at this moment – and results must come soon, starting with Saturday at home to Middlesbrough.