It feels like we’ve waited an age for this day to arrive. Not because Spurs at home is a meaningful fixture or anything, as fine as a club they are. More so, because since the capture of Fabio Borini melted the hearts of many on Wearside a couple of weeks ago, there’s still no getting away from the fact his arrival produces more questions than answers.
Frankly, we’re sick of speaking about it on the podcast and today should bring some much needed closure on the situation. Rewind a couple of weeks to Villa Park, and In the second half Sunderland looked like they were one player away from being a decent side. The thing is, that absent player seemed to be a centre forward capable of leading the line. Is Fabio that man? On one hand, you’d suggest not.
Yet, interestingly, when Gus Poyet continually employed him on the left of a front three, there was a collective complaint coming from the stands about the Uruguayan’s reluctance to give him a go doing just that. And he led the line at Wembley against Man City effectively, if I remember clearly amongst all that first half euphoria.
Naturally, there was a reason for Poyet sticking to his guns on the matter. By the end of the season, it seemed obvious that his clever runs from the left, getting behind behind the opposition defence, coupled with his enthusiasm to track back and cover ground, made it the perfect position for him.
Then, throughout much of last season, Connor Wickham was tasked with toiling away in that “Borini” position and when it became clear we were far too feeble in attack Poyet changed his system (again and again) to try and shoehorn new signing Jermain Defoe into the side. As is now, there was delight from the stands with the latest arrival despite niggling reservations over how they’d fit into the side. Poyet believed that his potential goals were needed to fire us to safety.
The tinkering cost him his job.
Then, and kind of ironically, Defoe’s goals indeed kept us up (though Gomez’s penalties against Southampton were equally crucial in my eyes).
Despite a wobble against Norwich, Dick Advocaat has since reassured many of us that 433 is necessary for a side without central midfielders from the top drawer, and has subsequently dismissed Jermain Defoe as an option in being the main striker through the middle.
No complaints from me there.
So while I’d have given my right arm (not really) to swap Connor Wickham for Fabio Borini in that front left role last season, it now looks probable he’ll get that central striker role we all initially wanted for him, yet would now perhaps question.
Football has a funny way of producing these ironic scenarios.
I’ve now been wondering if we’re actually to see a change of system entirely and find a way of playing more central strikers? The way we’re shipping goals in at the other end of the field would indicate not, and with very good reason.
As it is, Fabio’s lack of physical presence shouldn’t distract from the fact that he’s a talented, committed and intelligent footballer with youth very much on his side. I’m sure Dick Advocaat will be fully aware of what he can and can’t do.
He’s an upgrade on what he have. No question.
Now, I’m loathe to be as simplistic as comparing our current players to former ones on an individual basis, but in Jeremain Lens, Fabio Borini and Yann M’vila, there’s a splash of obvious quality in this squad that was absent from last season. Ola Toivonen and Younis Kaboul have hinted that their names can be added to that trio, meaning it’s hard not to be satisfied with our transfer business as a whole.
Play our little Italian beaut up front today and let him be awesome.
Welcome home, Fabio.