David Moyes reign as Sunderland manager has got off to a tough start and that was further compounded after defeat to Tottenham on Sunday. The former Everton and Manchester United boss is still looking for his first Premier League win since taking charge of The Black Cats and on the evidence that we’ve seen from these first five matches we could be waiting for some time.
If it weren’t for the fact that Stoke seem to be shipping four goals per game as a pre-requisite then they would be at the foot off the table. Moyes has already gone on record and said that he expects his side to be in a relegation battle this season and you get the feeling it may be a battle they simply cannot win.
Let’s now take a look at the three key areas where it’s going wrong for Sunderland
Defoe can’t do it all
Sunderland have only found the net three times this season and haven’t scored in their last two outings. There is no doubting the talents of Jermain Defoe but he alone can’t keep Sunderland up, no matter how times he finds the net during the course of the season.
It’s a side that looks far too light of attacking options. Duncan Watmore has a lot promise but even for all the potential he showed last season under the tutelage of Sam Allardyce he still doesn’t quite have the makings of a Premier League level striker.
It is of course testament to his talent that he is being given the chance to play in the top flight and not perhaps be loaned out to a Championship side but a lot of that will come down to the fact that Sunderland simply have so few options in attack that they can’t afford to loan him out.
Their performance against Tottenham was one where they were prepared to try and nick something, the result may have only been 1-0 but if it wasn’t for Jordan Pickford they could have conceded half a dozen. With such negative tactics being a forward for Sunderland seems to be an absolutely thankless task at the moment.
Moyes summer signings left a lot to be desired
With David Moyes being appointed as Sunderland manager quite late into the Summer it meant he didn’t have as much as a pre season as everyone else to look at what he had inherited and it also meant that other clubs got the jump on Sunderland when doing their transfer business.
That meant that there is almost an air of desperation to David Moyes’ summer signings and what he has bought seems to be a mixture of former Manchester United youngsters and foreigners that are struggling to adapt to the frenetic pace of the Premier League.
Out of the three United youngsters that Moyes has managed to obtain the services of then Adnan Januzaj looks the most promising but it’s fair to say he has gone off the boil since initially bursting onto the scene back in 2013. He has already had a failed loan move to Dortmund and fans of The Black Cats will be hoping he doesn’t have another uninspiring spell away from Old Trafford.
The mix of players that Moyes has bought into the club are simply that of a level required to stay up in the Premier League. But with the transfer window now closed until January, Moyes can only work with what he has got and this will be a real test of his coaching credentials.
Defence is all at sea
Sunderland have failed to keep a clean sheet this season and for the last two matches against Everton and Tottenham they have looked all at sea. One of the fundementals in football is that if you’re not scoring much at one end then make sure you at least have a solid defensive base. Right now Sunderland are experiencing the worst of both worlds.
Tottenham gave them a torrid time last Sunday and it’s a credit to Jordan Pickford that they come away with some level of respectability from that game. They were always going to have to work hard at White Hart Lane but Tottenham didn’t let them come up for air during what turned out to be another bleak afternoon.
With Moyes doing the majority of his transfer business so late it means that his players still have to bed in and more importantly get used to playing with each other. The back four lacks any real cohesion at present and more importantly lacks a leader.
The departure of key men such as Younes Kaboul would have been a massive blow for Sunderland and it’s one that they haven’t really filled. Papy Djilobodji whio has taken the place of Kaboul alongside Lacine Kone looks short of confidence and almost erratic at times. Last season under Allardyce Sunderland dragged their way out of the bottom three through keeping clean sheets and squeezing out wins, with the personnel that Moyes has that looks a near impossibility
As mentioned previously Moyes has already said that he expects Sunderland to be in a relegation battle this season, but what message does that really send out to both players and fans. From one point of view it may be that he felt it was best to manage the fans expectations but what expectations did they really have?
All those comments have done have created a spiral of negativity around the club and it’s one that could be very hard to shake off.