April 13, 2024

Following Sunderland’s defeat against Ipswich Town, Michael Beale justified his somewhat contentious team selection.

Sunderland fans were perplexed when they noticed Nazariy Rusyn was missing from the starting lineup for yesterday’s trip to Portman Road.

The Ukrainian was replaced by Abdoullah Ba, while Jobe Bellingham was promoted to the No.9 spot.

Nazariy Rusyn became the first Sunderland striker to score this season, netting the Black Cats’ second goal in a 2-0 win over Preston North End on New Year’s Day.

Rusyn was then given another start in the FA Cup against Newcastle United, and despite the outcome, he put in a good effort.

The forward was not rewarded for his efforts against Preston, and was instead replaced by Ba, who has put in some ‘woeful’ performances recently.


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Michael Beale has now defended his choice, arguing that with Jobe up top, the team’s ‘chemistry’ was greater.

“We did play with a striker, we played with Jobe,” the head coach told the Sunderland Echo.

“He can play there, and he has in games that we have won.” We have four young strikers, three of whom I believe are adjusting to this league and another who has done well, but I just thought that the team connection was better with Pritch playing off Jobe.

“It’s a situation I inherited, and it’s something I’m working on.” Naz has got more opportunities on the field since I arrived, but you also want to reward individuals, and I felt Abdoullah had a really strong week in training and deserved to play. He had a hand in the first goal. It’s a circumstance in which I can understand some of the supporters’ dissatisfaction. I believe the team does as well, because we’re looking for something to help us right away. What I would add is that if we discover it, we’ll be in a terrific position in the league and can continue from there.”

What did Nazariy Rusyn do to earn his dismissal?
Jobe Bellingham has played well up attack at times, scoring a brace against Rotherham United earlier this season.

However, the teenager has struggled in recent games at midfield, let alone out of position.

Jobe was possibly the only player who deserved to be dropped after Sunderland’s loss to Newcastle United, but Michael Beale kept him in and replaced the only Sunderland striker to score in nearly a year.

Rusyn was full of confidence and had the perfect opportunity to maintain his form, but he will feel chastised now – and even more perplexed by Beale’s decision to bring in a player who had been failing since before Christmas.

While Abdoullah Ba was outstanding against Ipswich yesterday, Rusyn was still incredibly unlucky and could have transformed the game if he had started – or even come on early.

Beale made a major error – not for the first, nor for the last time. It’s quite disturbing to see the former Rangers manager lead us in the wrong direction, and the owners don’t seem to care.

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