Boss Dick Advocaat: Sunderland will have to be shape shifters until we finalise summer signings

Dick Advocaat
Dick Advocaat

Dick Advocaat believes he cannot set Sunderland’s game-plan in stone until the club’s summer spending has been concluded.

Sunderland’s need for fresh blood has been damningly demonstrated over the opening two games of the campaign after the Black Cats have been trounced by Leicester and newly-promoted Norwich City.

Advocaat has made no secret of his desire for another couple of signings, with Sunderland yet to add an attacking midfielder or targetman to their squad, which the head coach has been looking to land throughout the summer.

The Black Cats have been looking at loan options, with question marks over the remaining funds available to Advocaat and sporting director Lee Congerton after the capture of five fresh faces.

Hopes of signing Adnan Januzaj have stalled though due to Manchester United’s prolonged pursuit of Barcelona winger Pedro, while Sunderland face stiff competition to re-sign former loanee Fabio Borini from Liverpool.

But Advocaat believes that until he knows the make-up of his final squad on September 1, it is difficult to predict whether he will stick with his favoured 4-3-3 set-up.

“At certain moments, we have to make a decision (on the formation), but we can only make a decision when I know what players I have,” said Advocaat.

“And we’ll know that in 14 days.

“I like 4-3-3 because it’s easier for everybody when you don’t have the ball, and you need to have the right players to play 4-4-2.

“If the other team play with three midfielders, it’s difficult.”

There was little evidence of a clear team shape or formation against Norwich, as Sunderland were again run ragged in a game earmarked to provide a reaction from the opening day defeat at Leicester.

But Advocaat has made it clear that he is no longer going to use striker Jermain Defoe as a lone striker, as was the case at Leicester.

Defoe was partnered by Steven Fletcher against Norwich and Advocaat believes there is still a place for the England international in his plans, despite the 32-year-old again being linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light over the weekend.

“Defoe can play on the right side, the left side, as a second striker, but, in my opinion, not as a lone striker,” added Advocaat.

“I tried that and it didn’t work out.

“That wasn’t his fault, it was more my fault because I put him there.”