Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Moving Rodwell Back Is Only Solution to Black Cats' Defensive Ills

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Moving Rodwell Back Is Only Solution to Black Cats' Defensive Ills

Article excerpt

JACK Rodwell is the answer for Sunderland at centre-half.

Unfortunately, it seems like most weeks I'm having a go at Younes Kaboul in this column, but I really think he's a problem in the form he's started the season in.

Sunderland cannot just keep mixing and matching four above-average centre-backs in the hope of finding the right combination because by the time they do, it'll be Christmas and too late to save themselves from relegation.

It's a pity Rodwell was not fit enough to get 45 minutes for the reserves against Southampton last night to give him a feel for the position again, but they need to get him in there as soon as they can.

He played there as a youngster at Everton, and plenty of people see it as his best position in the long-term. He's certainly got all the attributes.

There's a calmness about him which you need from the man at the centre of your defence. Every time Kaboul challenges for the ball at the moment, you worry.

His defending for Wayne Rooney's goal at the weekend, when Anthony Martial just skipped past him, was pathetic. Earlier in the game Matteo Darmian had shown how it was done.

He found himself in exactly the same position on the same bit of Old Trafford grass. Playing out of position at left-back, the Italian defended it like a proper defender should, and forced Adam Johnson out wide.

Kaboul's was the second big lapse of concentration by Sunderland's back four in a few seconds of playing time.

Just before half-time they allowed Juan Mata to get free from Daley Blind's pass. He squared for Memphis Depay, and everything changed.

Sunderland had come for a 0-0 but that totally changed both team talks. If they had come in at half-time with a clean sheet, they could have had a 15-minute breather and gone again.

The crowd would have started to turn and Sunderland would have had something to hang onto.

Both Manchester United's first two goals, just before and just after the break, showed a lack of concentration. You just cannot afford that when you play that system against a team with forwards like Manchester United's. …

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