Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson must consider axing Danny Graham from the Sunderland starting line-up immediately after questioning the striker’s desire following defeat to Mansfield Town in the FA Cup.
The Black Cats were beaten 1-0 at home to the Stags on Saturday as Parkinson rang the changes to protect his favoured players for crucial League One fixtures, as he strives to guide Sunderland out of the third-tier.
Graham could not repay his manager’s faith by impressing at the Stadium of Light, however, as the 35-year-old twice hit the woodwork with Sunderland’s best chances of the game, which both came inside the opening 10-minutes.
Parkinson was fuming at the full-time whistle with the performance he’d seen from his attacking players, who allowed League Two Mansfield to secure their first win of the season in any competition and begin Nigel Clough’s reign in the best way possible.
He felt the Black Cats had produced enough chances to score at least one goal, having seen 38 crosses delivered into the box despite making eight changes to the starting line-up.
“I picked a team that I felt was capable of winning,” Parkinson said, via quotes by the Chronicle. “There were players who were injured who didn’t figure and there were some who we chose not to play because they had played a lot of football, while others needed games.
“The team was strong enough to win and over the course of the game, we’ve put enough quality deliveries into the box to have won the match. Ok, our decision-making wasn’t always great and the quality wasn’t always great, but there were enough over the 90 minutes.
“Our desire and movement to get across people and get something from those moments wasn’t good enough. The one cross Mansfield put in, the lad [George Lapslie] has got in with real desire, got between two of our defenders and headed it in.
“I’ve just sat down and gone through all the deliveries that we put in and there were more than enough to have won the game comfortably.”
Parkinson’s comments, while not naming any players directly, show a clear displeasure to the performance given from Graham, who has now scored just one goal in 10 appearances across all competitions since returning to the Stadium of Light this summer – a pretty awful record for a man of his calibre.
Black Cats CEO Jim Rodwell’s decision to sanction the 35-year-old’s comeback is now appearing more of a horror by the day after defeat to Mansfield, and Parkinson must consider axing the striker Blackburn Rovers released when his side travels to Fleetwood Town in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.
Sunderland could have benefited nicely from a run in the FA Cup, but that is now not to be after the likes of Graham – who previously scored just once in 42 games for the Black Cats – failed to offer anything worthwhile.
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