Soccer Magazine

Grayson’s Uphill Struggle to Mould a Viable Sunderland Squad

By Colin Randall @salutsunderland
Grayson’s uphill struggle to mould a viable Sunderland squad

… through the Championship, we’re on our way?

William Sundin, a media production graduate from Sunderland University (though strongly suspected of being an Ipswich supporter) takes another clinical look at SAFC’s fascinatingly complex fortunes and echoes the thoughts of a certain Sunderland hero that the defeat to Leeds exposed our limitations …

Sunderland have enjoyed a reasonably solid start to the Championship campaign though the rigours of playing with a limited squad appeared to catch up with them against Leeds.

Simon Grayson’s men were unbeaten heading into the match at the Stadium of Light. However, goals from Samuel Saiz and Stuart Dallas condemned Sunderland to their first defeat of the league progromme.

The result highlighted the squad’s lack of strength in depth and the work needed to bolster the squad before the closure of the transfer window.

Yet even without sufficient additions, Grayson does appear to have formed a semblance of an identity with the emphasis on hard work.

Whether or not he has the quality to deliver the club’s goal of returning to the Premier League remain to be seen. The results suggest that they do have talent in some areas, given that they’ve faced teams that finished in the top of half of the Championship last term and fared well enough.

Is their early form enough to back with a free bet for a surge back to the top flight? On current assessment, you’d have to say no, although in the club’s last promotion campaign under Roy Keane, Sunderland did not click into full gear until the second half of the season.

Therefore, if you have a bonus bet lined up, it might be worth holding on to it, for now, to gain better value via the Boylesports betting page later in the term and tracking SAFC’s progress. Sunderland have finished no lower than third in their last six Championship seasons, which makes them an intriguing club to follow at this level.

Following the Wearsiders’ relegation, there was an exodus of key players, notably Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford. Aiden McGeady, Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan arrived as Grayson attempted to fill the void, with McGeady and Grabban hitting the ground running.

Grayson’s uphill struggle to mould a viable Sunderland squad

Aiden McGeady: SAFC via Facebook

McGeady, signed from Everton, has offered creativity down the left flank, providing the ammunition for Grabban’s own solid start to the season, while also getting himself on the scoresheet in Sunderland’s win over Norwich at Carrow Road.

The Republic of Ireland international thrived under Grayson at Preston North End last season, and his early outings suggest that he’s on top of his game again.

Grayson’s uphill struggle to mould a viable Sunderland squad

Credit: Lewis Grabban via Twitter

However, the 31-year-old Irishman cannot be Sunderland’s only creative source and the midfield pairing of Lee Cattermole and Didier Ndong are not going to be a conduit of inspiration.

Both players are useful in gaining and retaining possession but lack the cutting edge needed to open up defences. George Honeyman has impressed early on, but whether he will be able to retain his level of displays over the course of the campaign remains to be seen. Wahbi Khazri should be relishing the challenge, although he seems to have his sights set on an exit.

Duncan Watmore could be the answer as he recovers from an ACL injury. He is due back in September, the only snag being whether his pace has been affected by the injury since this would reduce his effectiveness on the pitch.

Grayson has hinted that he could move for Robert Snodgrass, while former midfielder Grant Leadbitter has also been linked. Those players would fit the mold need to provide creativity, but also the graft that Sunderland manager demands from his team as he attempts to reshape their identity.


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