This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Sunderland have struggled under Phil Parkinson and though a change to 4-3-3 didn’t yield success against Scunthorpe, it could be a useful option long-term.
With more than a month to go until the January transfer window and several important games to be played until then, Parkinson needs to find a solution from the options he has available currently.
Since taking over he has mainly continued Jack Ross’ 4-2-3-1 style, a surprising choice given the Scot’s lack of success, and though the Black Cats seemed to be heading on the right path after the demolition of Tranmere, they have since gone backwards.
That could be due to a lack of quality, but the bigger issue seems to be a lack of confidence, which could be addressed with a more attacking formation.
Key to that is the front-three, and particularly Will Grigg. Sunderland have to find a way of imposing dominance on the opposition, and posing a constant danger in the attacking final third is a good way to do that.
Operating with a 4-3-3 formation could enable that to happen, and in getting wingers to play higher up the pitch and closer to Grigg, Parkinson could start to build self-belief and establish a run of good form.
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Despite the concerning results of late, there have been good individual performances since Parkinson took over, which indicates that with time he may begin to bring the best out of the players at his disposal.
4-3-3 would suit those two players, as they both come alive in the opponent’s final third, and playing higher up the pitch they would have a greater chance of receiving the ball in threatening positions.
If given more attacking responsibility they could also provide support and service for Grigg, and that could prove pivotal.
Parkinson has thus far failed to win over the supporters, but a more attacking and entertaining style would at least reinvigorate a fanbase that is becoming increasingly disillusioned with their club, and their owner.