Optimism was sure to be high for Sunderland after their survival saviour of last term, Dick Advocaat, performed a U-turn on the decision to retire from football management to take the Black Cats’ reins for 2015/16.
After Jeremain Lens became the marquee arrival during a summer that saw Younes Kaboul, Sebastian Coates and Adam Matthews also join the cause, the Stadium of Light faithful must surely have felt relegation scraps were a thing of the past.
However, a 4-2 decimation by Leicester on the opening day of the season, which saw the Foxes take a 3-0 lead inside the opening 25 minutes brought familiar feelings of struggle flooding back to the Tyneside outfit.
Advocaat used a 4-3-3 formation for the trip to the King Power stadium, but was forced to admit in his post-match press conference that with Jermain Defoe leading the line on his own, that system would not work.
Indeed, Sunderland’s fortunes improved against the Foxes once Steven Fletcher was thrown into the fray on the half-hour mark, joining Defoe in a 4-4-2 formation that saw both front men get on the scoresheet.
Advocaat intimated that he may be forced to dip into the transfer market again to find what he called a “real striker” capable of playing up front on his own, or otherwise scrap his preferred setup altogether.
With time ticking down on the transfer window, it may be that switching to 4-4-2 more regularly proves to be the better option.
Defoe proved with his finish at Leicester that he is still a capable top-flight goal getter despite being 32-years-old, while Fletcher, although not prolific, is another player that thrives when playing with a strike partner.
With the Black Cats 6/5 for relegation, the last thing they need is to panic buy a striker to fit a system that they’d have to abandon at the first sight of injury to that new player anyway.
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