Talking Tactics

Jack Ross made the decision to revert to 4-4-2 in the 3-0 win against Accrington Stanley, but should he stick with the formation?

After playing 4-2-3-1 for the majority of his time at the club it has been slightly underwhelming at times. People have been asking for the boss to be more adventurous and be more offensive.

I think at Wembley where he brought off Will Grigg for Power and put Gooch up front made Ross realize that he needs to be a bit more adventurous. It’s a credit to him that he made the change to be a bit bolder and obviously it worked.

Ross’ criticism for not being flexible enough has been warranted, it’s now a big test to see how he moves forward now he has another option tactically.

4-4-2 is often seen as a backwards way of thinking, in a modern age of teams playing more possession-based football, however, there’s nothing wrong with having a plan b. With players like Charlie Wyke up top, it suits him to the ground.

Will Grigg has really struggled and been isolated at times this year and with Wyke up there, with him, it’s only going to benefit both to have a partner up top, and hopefully, they’ll be able to score more goals as a result. Wyke, being six foot plus can be a handful for the defenders he can drag the defenders away from Grigg and give the Northern Irishman space.

Who it doesn’t benefit is George Honeyman, when you’re playing 4-4-2 it’s hard to accommodate a player such as Honeyman who wants to roam in between the lines. Honeyman is the captain of the club and has had a good season so far, although he does sometimes flatter to deceive, at times this season when he’s been out of the team he’s been missed.

It’s hard to imagine Ross playing 4-4-2 for the eight games remaining unless Wyke and Grigg both score a huge amount. Against teams such as Accrington and Rochdale who are struggling, we don’t necessarily need that extra midfielder to keep the ball. We’ve got the players like McGeady and Morgan who can drive the team up the pitch and can create or score the goals. Denver Hume’s addition to the team has also added another offensive dimension and Sunderland can prioritise the attacks on the flanks.

Being so used to playing with three midfielders creates a selection headache for the gaffer, he’s signed the likes of Dylan McGeouch, Grant Leadbitter and Max Power to all compete for two spots and now has to decide who he thinks are best for the 4-4-2 system. Going off Wednesday night, you’d say McGeouch has put himself at the top of the list to start again.

Regardless of who plays in the midfield, it’s nice to see Ross is still adapting, in the end, he’s still a young manager he’s not going to be perfect. He is only in his third managerial job and it’s his highest profile position - he’s not going to get everything right.

Looking at the next game against Rochdale it would be surprising to see Ross go back to 4-2-3-1 and as they say why change a winning team?