Why Sunderland must drop Jermain Defoe if they are to stay up

Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe featured during his side’s 6-2 defeat at Everton.

If Sunderland are to beat the drop this season, they simply cannot persist with Jermain Defoe in the starting line-up despite the evident qualities that he possesses.

Sam Allardyce’s sides in years gone by have always preserved their Premier League status, whether by the skin of their teeth or in a lofty mid-table position against all odds.

Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United – different clubs but all built on the same principles with superb organisation, a battling ram up top and a hardworking midfield.

At Sunderland, Allardyce has a dilemma in striker Jermain Defoe and even hinted during his pre-match comments against Everton that his inclusion could be detrimental to the team.

The 60-year-old alluded to the fact that Defoe is a natural born scorer, yet playing him in a 4-4-2 could leave his team too open through the middle. Well, Defoe played, he scored but his side lost 6-2.

Allardyce’s Premier League survival blueprint has always featured a proper centre-forward in a 4-5-1 system, one who wins aerial battles and drops deep to link-up the play.

In Steven Fletcher he has that player, whereas Defoe is more of the type to play on the defender’s shoulder and look to get in behind on accurate through balls.

If Sunderland are to avoid relegation this season, Allardyce must make the tough decision and stick to his principles and what he knows best - that a striker of Defoe’s type simply cannot feature.

Against Everton, the first-half injury to Lee Cattermole certainly didn’t help but it became alarmingly clear how the Merseyside outfit just steamrolled the Black Cats through the middle.

Allardyce may not be blessed with the best players at the Stadium of Light, but he has players in the likes of Cattermole, Jack Rodwell and Yann M’Vila to flood the midfield and keep them compact.

In Adam Johnson and Seb Larsson, there are also players who can produce good deliveries from wide areas and Fletcher is among the very best when it comes to an aerial threat.

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