Sunderland predicted XI - West Bromwich Albion: Who will make Allardyce's first Black Cats side?
Photo source: Sunderland AFC

This weekend, Sam Allardyce will select his first ever Sunderland team, having taken charge of the club last Friday after Dick Advocaat's departure.

The Dutchman he succeeds spent his days on Wearside deploying the Black Cats in a 4-2-3-1 set-up and trying to play attractive football, which failed in every sense of the word. Allardyce, however, is expected to do the exact opposite.

The 60-year-old brings with him a style that Chelsea's Jose Mourinho famously described as "19th century football," yet, this came after a goalless draw between the Blues and West Ham United - a point that Sunderland would love right now as they sit in the relegation zone with just three after eight games.

Points over performances and effectiveness over eye-catching play, Allardyce will drill his team into scrapping for wins as opposed to playing well for them and, whilst it may not be pretty, it will be needed.

The big question is though, who will the new manager select to carry out these orders when his side travel to the Hawthorns on Saturday to take on West Bromwich Albion?

Experience over expensiveness

If Allardyce has watched Sunderland enough this year, and one would assume he has done his research before taking the job, then he will know that summer signings Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates have been very underwhelming since arriving at the Stadium of Light for an incredible £10 million combined.

Thus, it would not be a huge surprise to see the former-Bolton Wanderers boss recall Wes Brown, a man cast aside by Advocaat and used as sparingly as possible during the current season.

His experience, alongside John O'Shea's, is likely to preferred by Allardyce, a former centre-half himself who will value experience over the price tags of their teammates.

Again, if the 60-year-old has watched the Black Cats this season, then he will also opt for DeAndre Yedlin at left-back over Patrick van Aanholt, who has been responsible for a large handful of the goals conceded this year.

Billy Jones can be expected to continue on the right, having been one of the best performers in recent weeks. Yet, Adam Matthews, having just returned from injury, will hope to compete for a place more after struggling to catch Advocaat's eye since arriving from Celtic this summer.

Costel Pantilimon should also keep his place in-between the sticks, another player who has been one of the best of a bad bunch this campaign.

Steel and pace in a flat midfield four

A lover of his hard-tackling central midfielders, especially after working with Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan at Upton Park, Allardyce is expected to deploy Lee Cattermole and Yann M'Vila in the centre of a flat midfield four.

Both played well against the Hammers last time out, with their fighting spirit and work-rate helping the Black Cats race into a two goal lead, as well as preventing them from giving up all three points once their opponents got back on level terms.

Allardyce's effective style of play will be very direct, and thus it is likely to take the form of a standard 4-4-2 set-up, with Adam Johnson and Jeremain Lens the preferred wideman duo.

However, Lens is unavailable this Saturday after picking up two bookings against West Ham, and thus the new manager has a problem on his hands.

Ola Toivonen is not a winger, and may struggle to get in the team having been brought in to play in an attacking midfield role which won't exist in Allardyce's system, meaning Fabio Borini may have to play out wide again in the Dutchman's absence.

Duncan Watmore will hope to push for a place in the team having seen the slate wiped clean under a new coach, but will need to bide his time and look to impress bit-by-bit, as he did with Advocaat.

Target man required in direct system

The front two is then likely to consist of Steven Fletcher and Jermain Defoe.

The former's height and strength will be required as Allardyce encourages long balls forward and crosses into the box, despite it being largely contrasting to Advocaat's style of play.

These desired attributes may also mean a way back into the picture for out-of-favour Danny Graham, but, for now, Fletcher will be the preferred candidate, especially after scoring four whilst on international duties with Scotland this week.

Defoe's energy will then be useful around Fletcher to pick up his knock downs and offer a way in behind the West Brom defence when M'Vila and Cattermole look to play central, as opposed to predictably out wide every time.

Toivonen will also have to start from scratch now, pushing his way into the team as a striker, having been brought in to play as an attacking midfielder. This match perhaps comes too soon for him to do this, especially with him an injury doubt, but any impact off the bench, if he is fit enough to make the squad, could go a long way in helping him get there.

Predicted Sunderland XI - West Brom (4-4-2): Pantilimon; Jones, O'Shea, Brown, Yedlin; Johnson, M'Vila, Cattermole, Borini; Fletcher, Defoe.

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