MIKE DODDS is ready to take the handbrake off as he looks to get Sunderland’s stuttering season back on track at home to Swansea City this afternoon.

Dodds kicks off his third spell as interim Sunderland boss with his side seven points adrift of the play-off positions after they lost their final two matches under his predecessor, Michael Beale.

One of the main criticisms levelled at Beale during his ill-fated 63-day reign was that he was too conservative and had removed much of the attacking freedom that was evident under Tony Mowbray.

Dodds has been keen not to be overly-criticial of Beale this week, but he clearly wants his side to adopt a more overtly-attacking outlook in the remaining 13 games of the campaign.

“I think I understand what the fans want in terms of how they want a Sunderland team to be, and I think that is every single game having a real go,” said Dodds. “Some we’ll lose, some we’ll win, and I’ll have to answer questions regardless of how it goes.

“At some point I will leave this football club, hopefully a good few years from now still, the people of Sunderland want the brand of football to be something that is reflective of the city.

“That’s not lost on me and that’s something that we will try and reflect on Saturday, and the 12 games after that. I’ve got an image and a vision in my head on how a Sunderland team should look.”


Much of the conversation around Sunderland’s attacking play this season has revolved around whether or not the team should play with a natural number nine.

Nazariy Rusyn and Mason Burstow both got opportunities under Beale without really convincing, but in his previous spell in caretaker charge this season, Dodds tended to play with Jobe Bellingham as his central striker.

“I don't really have a preference in terms of striker, no striker, two strikers,” said Dodds. “As I've got older, I've got a lot more comfortable in terms of who I am and what I like and don't like.

“The reality is, and I think I showed this in my last stint, I will pick a team that I think will win the game regardless of whether it's one striker, two, etc.

“I know if I win I'll get plaudits, and if I don't I'll get questions, and I'm super comfortable with that because any decision I make will have been thought out over and over again.”