Sam Allardyce is keen for Sunderland to have a settled side, rather than constantly tinkering for a winning formula that can beat the drop.
Allardyce may be forced into one change for tomorrow’s Wear-Tyne derby, depending on Fabio Borini’s fitness, while Ola Toivonen and Jeremain Lens are also pushing for recalls after missing last weekend’s defeat at West Brom through injury and suspension respectively.
There are a lot of players here who haven’t played as much as think they should have playedSAM ALLARDYCE
Striker Jermain Defoe – who netted the spectacular winner in last seaosn’s corresponding fixture with Newcastle – made it clear earlier this week too that he was not content with a place on Sunderland’s bench.
But while Allardyce may make tweaks to his starting XI tomorrow, the new Sunderland manager is not keen to make a pattern of constantly altering the make-up of the side in the search for points.
That was something which plagued predecessors Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat, with the latter NEVER naming an unchanged line-up during his tenure.
“There’s more than Jermain Defoe that’s frustrated at the club,” said Allardyce.
“There are a lot of players here who haven’t played as much as think they should have played.
“At this moment, I am guided by what Brace (Paul Bracewell) and Robbie (Stockdale) have seen.
“I haven’t seen as much as they have. I am taking some judgmental decisions based on that.
“I’m hoping that whoever plays tomorrow, plays so well that I can’t change the team the week after.
“That’s the trouble when you’re a manager down at the bottom of the league, you get ever more anxious the longer you don’t win and you keep rearranging the furniture when you don’t really want to.
“You only want to rearrange the furniture when it’s an injury or a suspension.
“You don’t want to change the team on the basis that you’ve tried this shape, so now I’ll try that shape, or I’ll change this player for that player, constantly searching for something.
“If you do that, the players never really get settled. We really need to win football matches so we can all settle down and I can play a regular team.
“The rest will have to wait for their opportunity. The players who aren’t playing at the moment will probably think ‘why isn’t he picking me? We haven’t even got a win, and if he played me I’m sure we’d win’.
“I’ve got all that to contend with.
“But if a player gets an opportunity, it won’t be me who drops him, it will be himself because all his stats will tell me whether he is good enough to stay in that team.”