A combination of a growing injury list and a lack of new signings has seen Sunderland manager David Moyes turn to youth at the start of the new season.
Midfielders Duncan Watmore and Lynden Gooch and defenders Donald Love and Paddy McNair were in the starting line-up in the Wear-Tees derby defeat on Sunday.
Young over experience
Experienced duo Jeremain Lens and Wahbi Khazri were left on the bench and only Lens made an appearance. Moyes was very outspoken about wanting pace and energetic work rate, but Moyes felt his side deserved more in the 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough, however, he had a lot of praise for the youngsters.
The American winger Gooch was the stand-out player for Moyes after being moved into a central role at the half-time break. “The attitude of the players was great,” said Moyes. Moyes had great things to say about Gooch who did “terrifically” well in the second half and so did Watmore who grew in confidence and “attempted to take people on.”
Gooch is a versatile player who can play “off the sides” but can also take on the role in the “middle.”
Moyes praises new signing
A new player on the block Steven Pienaar, who recently signed a one-year deal after a very successful trial. Pienaar came on just before half-time to replace injured John O’Shea, with Jack Rodwell being dropped into the centre of defence.
“I thought Steven Pienaar was terrific in the second half,” added Moyes. Sunderland fell apart in the last ten minutes as they sat back to allow Middlesbrough to play in their half, the intensity dropped significantly it was because the Black Cats had “no legs left.” Pienaar made his Sunderland debut at the weekend, and experienced his first time in the red and white shirt as he played no part in “pre-season games.”
Moyes believes the scoreline didn’t reflect the match having “played quite” well in the opening of the first half, but they found themselves a “goal down” by a world class goal by the 13 minute. Because Moyes’ hands were tied and limited options he gave the “young boys” opportunities, despite not being the right time for them to flourish in the big leagues, but it was because Sunderland was short on “numbers.”
Eight minutes before half-time O’Shea had to be substituted due to a groin injury which left them without a “central midfielder” and didn’t really have a “centre-half left.”