Former West Ham United boss Sam Allardyce was appointed the new manager of Sunderland on Friday, signing a two-year deal with the Black Cats.
His task for this season is quite simple – preserve their Premier League status.
The Black Cats find themselves five points adrift of safety having picked up just three draws in their opening eight Premier League matches, a run which has devoid the team of any confidence.
Still, Allardyce is used to working against the odds and despite their current position, there is still plenty of promise within that Sunderland squad and survival isn’t out of the question.
The 60-year-old’s first job at the Stadium of Light is to establish which players are up for the fight, and which players fit in with the system in which he has adopted for a good number of years.
Allardyce’s football may not be pretty, but there isn’t anyone out there who can question its effectiveness as defensive organisation, dead-ball situations and directness now take priority.
Of the options available to Allardyce, he will immediately look at striker Steven Fletcher as ideal for his style having based his teams on tall, strong centre-forwards in the past.
Jermain Defoe is another player who will grow in importance as the season progresses, as will central midfielders Lee Cattermole and Yann M’Vila, who will be vital in providing the necessary protection.
Set-pieces have always been key for Allardyce, and he will be looking at the likes of John O’Shea, Sebastian Coates and Billy Jones to provide important height at the back.
Below is how Big Sam may opt to line up – without Fabio Borini and with an added importance of picking up the second balls around Fletcher and hurting teams through the middle.