Perhaps it’s time to alleviate ourselves from the thought-shackling managerial mess and think a little bit about football, for a bit anyway. Kevin Ball takes charge of what is likely to be his last match as caretaker manager with the next permanent boss set to be announced next week, apparently. So what exactly does a managerless team with one point on the board, the worst defensive record who find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table need next? A visit from the champions of course!
We have only taken two points from Manchester United at home since the turn of the millennium, but it is fair to say that maybe we are not as intimidated by them as we were under Alex Ferguson’s astute guidance - especially after they have had a pretty awful start by their standards. This is quite possibly the best time to play United, still under pressure to kick start season and fresh from a tough trip to Ukraine. Is it the best time to play Sunderland? Surprisingly not…well…I don’t think so anyway.
The match against Liverpool saw new, focussed energy pumped into the side despite a result not dissimilar from the rest of our embarrassing start to the season. Perhaps we will not come across a strike partnership quite so on-song and deadly as Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge with none the weekend opponent’s forwards firing too rapidly. The fact is, as it always has been this season, we will concede but we will also create more than a handful of decent chances. Add a little composure up front, we will score too. There is no doubt in my mind we will get underestimated – it is surely natural when you are facing a team who have started as badly as we have.
I can’t really anticipate any changes by Bally for this one. Everyone is available who was last weekend so I expect an unchanged eleven. Personally, I’d love to see Charis Mavrias get the nod over Sebastian Larsson and Ondrej Celustka over Craig Gardner. I don’t really think it matters who plays at centre back all of our options have proven they aren’t exactly masters of the clean sheet – although Modibo Diakite should surely be considered pick of the bunch.
Westwood; Gardner, O’Shea, Cuellar, Colback; Johnson, Ki, Cattermole, Larsson, Giaccherini; Altidore
WAW: United have had a tough start, is it as bad as everyone tells us it is?
Craig: Currently sitting 12th in the Barclays Premier League and more than disappointing performances against Manchester City and West Brom, it has not been the start to the Moyes era than the reigning Champions would have wanted, but we now need to get that confidence back into our play and create more chances. Not scoring from open play in the league since the first game of the season is slightly worrying.
WAW: Is David Moyes the right man to revive your title challenge?
It is going to take time for the team to gel and settle down under David Moyes, it is not going to happen overnight and personally think it may not even happen this season.
WAW: Sunderland have provided one or two talking points lately, pretty miserable for us - what is your take on Sunderland and the managerial situation?
Craig: Been a tough start for the club and fans of Sunderland, although the performance against Liverpool last weekend was more than a confidence boost, coming out 3-1 loss but impressed all over the pitch during the 90-minutes. With just 1 point from 5 games, it does not look a good start, hopefully no points gained on Saturday evening either!
WAW: How do you expect the season to pan out for us?
Craig: Relegation battle is very much too soon to say, no doubt Sunderland fans are already speculating on the long season ahead. Would imagine they will still survive in the Premier League though come the final day of the season.
WAW: Who worries you most in our squad?
Craig: John O'Shea, Legend.
WAW: What are your thoughts on the weekend’s game and what do you think the result will be?
Craig: Looking forward to Saturday evening, we need a convincing performance and need to get back on track. Score prediction 4-0, Patrice Evra to score first.
As we all probably expected the Mancs come up with some confidence – and rightly so given our current plight. I mirror that thought though, can’t see United scoring four against anyone (yes, even us!) and fully expect both teams to score. Giaccherini is crucial to our set up and if he can be as influential as he has been over the last two games we should get a lot of joy further up the pitch.
Reckon Bally will do his claims for the job no harm whatsoever in a 2-1 home win!