Is Ellis’ Patience running Short?


When Martin O’Neill took over at Sunderland in December last year many people thought he was going to be their saviour and establish them as a mid-table, European competition chasing side, I know I did, but now 11 months down the line the club are struggling towards the bottom end of the table and struggling in front of goal, which is a real cause for concern for all Sunderland fans.

Scoring only eight league goals this season has been a real worry for the Mackems, and with only two goal scorers, Adam Johnson (1) and Steven Fletcher (6) plus an own goal from Demba Ba in the Tyne-Wear derby, the club are really struggling.

The goals have not been flowing for Sunderland since Darren Bent was sold to Aston Villa, and the loss of Asamoah Gyan to Qatar, with Nicklas Bendtner struggling to perform on loan last season and the youth of Frasier Campbell and Connor Wickham not stepping up to the plate, as of yet, so this is an issue O’Neill needs to correct.

Fletcher has done well so far with his six league goals since joining in the summer, but the pressure of scoring can’t always fall to him with him needing support from the others to lift the weight of expectation off his shoulders, and O’Neill will need to address this problem soon before they are dragged into a relegation battle.

It’s not a lack of creative players in the squad that is the problem but the lack of which they are creating, when looking at players such as Johnson, James McClean, Sebastian Larsson and Stephane Sessegnon the quality is there, all which have proven it in the past. So is its O’Neill’s tactics that are wrong? Or are the opposition just finding it is easy to play against?

With just one league win this season coming against Wigan, it has left Sunderland in 17th position in the table with just nine points, meaning they have drawn six out of the ten games that they have played, and are just four points off of the relegation zone. And this is coming into the Christmas period which is difficult for all clubs, with games coming in quick succession, and now with the rearranged fixture against Reading added to the list it could be make or break time for O’Neill and his Sunderland squad. 

O’Neill is good friends with Chairman Short and will surely be hoping that this will work in his favour, but when the club are struggling you would hope that Short would make a decision based on business and not friendship, resulting in what would be best for the club.

After taking just 24 points from the 81 available since February its clear to see that Sunderland are a team struggling for consistency and form, and that they need something new to revitalise what is going on within the walls of the Stadium of Light.

January is just around the corner and the transfer window will reopen, so if O’Neill is still in charge he will need the financial backing of the owner to help him improve on what looks like a stale side running out of ideas. 

The priorities would have to be a new striker to help take the pressure off of Fletcher and strengthening in defence with injuries causing O’Neill headaches when it comes to defensive selection, having to rely on centre mid Craig Gardner to play at right back due to the loss of Phil Bardsley to injury.

I’m not a fan of managers being sacked without having a real opportunity, and with O’Neill only being in the job for 11 months I hope that he is given more a chance, especially with the experience he has and I’m sure he will eventually get the team playing full of confidence and getting the results that will fire them up the league table.

If he can bring some quality in in January and take the pressure off of Fletcher then I’m sure the results will come, but it will be the difficult Christmas period that I believe will decide his future, with him needing to pick up victories against Reading and QPR at home, whilst trying to snatch a point here and there when coming up against Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea. 

Joe Aird