Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has suggested he can’t afford to play two up top and questioned whether Jermain Defoe has the capabilities to lead the line on his own, the Daily Star report.
Since taking over the club on a two-year contract, Sunderland have managed to pick up their first win of the season as they defeated 10-man Newcastle United 3-0 at the Stadium of Light.
Defoe was instrumental coming off the bench last weekend, however Allardyce’s blueprint to Premier League survival has almost always been built on a 4-5-1 system where he plugs the midfield.
Speaking to reporters ahead of his side’s clash with Everton, Allardyce recognises the dilemma he faces but was honest in his suggestion that playing Defoe could ultimately weaken his side.
“There’s no doubt about Jermain playing like that but if that’s 4-4-2, can the rest of the team cope?” Allardyce was quoted as saying by the Daily Star of his display against the Toon.
“Jermain might score but the opposition might score twice. Jermain might score two and the opposition might score three. That’s based on the fact that you can’t control midfield if you have one player fewer there.”
Defoe was primarily brought in by the Black Cats last season to help them preserve their Premier League status, yet his very inclusion this season could in fact hinder them.
His attributes aren’t ideal to play the lone striker role, with his instincts to play off the shoulder’s defender and get in behind rather than come short and link play with his teammates.
Allardyce’s sides in the past have always featured a proper centre-forward capable of dominating in the air and linking play, such as Kevin Davies, Andy Carroll and Jason Roberts.
Steven Fletcher is ideal for this role, a factor which will restrict Defoe to being just a bit-part player.
Can the former Tottenham Hotspur man adapt his game to feature under Allardyce – or be happy to be a mere impact player off the bench? On both accounts, it’s highly unlikely.