This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Phil Parkinson takes his new Sunderland side to second placed Wycombe Wanderers this weekend looking to get the Black Cats’ season back on track, with them currently trailing leaders Ipswich Town by eight points.
Though Sunderland are down in ninth place they do have games in hand on some of those above them and with opponents Wycombe in second spot but only four points ahead of them, the opportunity is there to get into the automatic promotion mix.
But should Parkinson make any changes for the Wycombe match?
“Everyone should have a clean slate.
“Players perform differently under managers so there’s no point judging the players on what they’ve done in the past.
“He’s only had a few days training so Parkinson will go on his own gut feeling and the thoughts of the coaches, then it’s down to the XI selected to keep their shirt.
“In terms of specific individuals, Aiden McGeady needs to start if fit as he has that bit of magic that nobody else does in the Black Cats squad, whilst Parkinson may be the man to revitalise Will Grigg’s career.
“Ultimately, they have a fantastic squad for this level so whoever is selected should be good enough, although it’s a very tough first game for the new boss.”
“He needs to stop with the 4-2-3-1 formation that the Black Cats were playing and play a system that allows for two strikers up top.
“In Charlie Wyke, Marc McNulty and Will Grigg you have three strikers that are all capable of scoring a large number of goals in this division, so use them. They all have the ability to find the back of the net on regular occasions but it’s how you use them, and in the past they have all been effective with a strike partner.
“Defensively, they’ve looked poor so far this season, and that was one of their strong points last season. Laurens De Bock hasn’t impressed since his loan move from Leeds, so a change could be seen in that aspect.
“A spark is needed, Aiden McGeady sits on the bench most games and he has the ability to conjure up something out of nothing, but they’ll need more from players like him especially if Parkinson regiments his structured style at the club.”
Should Phil Parkinson make any changes to Sunderland for the Wycombe match?
“Parkinson should certainly not be afraid of making significant changes to his side ahead of the Wycombe match, as now the perfect time for him to reset the squad.
“He should not be too worried about maintaining continuity and he should simply focus on developing a rhythm with the players he wants to build his team around, and this should start on Saturday.
“One key change he should make is starting Will Grigg. The striker has been out of form since joining Sunderland, but he could be a real asset in this division if Parkinson can get the best out of him.
“I think Sunderland should play a 4-4-2 formation with Grigg leading the line alongside Marc McNulty, while Max Power and Luke O’Nien provide service from deep. There should also be a starting place for Aiden McGeady if he is fully fit on Saturday.”