Couldn't Compete & Can't Cope with Conceding; A Trip to New York and the Fall-out from Sunderland 0 Saints 4


The Sunday after another miserable defeat, made worse by the misplaced hope the win at Crystal Palace had engendered. Typical Sunderland eh? Yes, but it's no excuse and the games are running out. 

Southampton made Sunderland look like a Sunday league side as they strolled to a four goal victory on Saturday. It really was that bad. Leaden legs, labouring players, options from the bench which made the side even worse and an inability to string two passes together. 

Yes, David Moyes' men played well for 20 minutes and the Sunderland boss even enjoyed a rare chorus of the South Stand singing his name, but by the end of the 90 the home crowd had turned again in what is now a worrying sequence of home form which now extends to two point in four attempts with nine goals conceded. The home side were completely outplayed and made the basics look hard. 

Moyes had a stronger side out yesterday than at any point in the previous couple of months, and still they perform like that. New signing Darron Gibson was ineffectual on his home debut and looked exactly what he is - a man who has barely played football this season. Vito Mannone continued his perpetual panic when put under pressure and answered the question of whether Jordan Pickford should get his place straight back. Billy Jones at right back was literally ripped apart by Southampton's left flank whilst John O'Shea was withdrawn to spare his blushes.  

Moyes previewed the game on Friday by suggesting those available in his squad now offer him fresh options that he has been unable to throw on in recent games. The ones who came on just embarrassed themselves. Wahbi Khazri looked like he was taking the mickey, losing his man when he could, taking a couple of dire corners and for some reason punching the ball into the net as Southampton scored; Steven Pienaar shouldn't be on the pitch, let alone brought on at half time as a chasing the game tactic; and Fabio Borini wafted about as if his brain was fully occupied by what delights he could return from New York with for his lovely wife Erin as a Valentine gift.  

And on that topic. Much will now be made of Moyes taking his men to New York. Elements will make it out to be a jolly old knees up, rubbing the faces of supporters in it who would have to save up to afford such extravagance. Blah blah. One thing is certain, a little bonding and sight-seeing can't make this lot any worse, and the way things are right now - that's the best we can hope for - that things don't get any worse. 

It's worth a shot and Moyes has done this trip before with his successful Everton sides. What's the alternative? Force these failing footballers to stay in Sunderland for a fortnight as punishment? These aren't school kids, they're supposed to be elite sportsmen [laughs]. Let them jet off to the Big Apple, I'll be glad to see the back of them for a while if nothing else. Plans are plans, give it a shot and if it doesn't work, the post-mortem for that one can be held with all the rest at the end of the season.  

While they're there, they might even find some balls. Games are now following an alarming pattern whereby if the opposition score first, the match will be over by half time. It happened yesterday, it happened when Stoke were the visitors and it happened recently at West Brom and Burnley and plenty more games this season. There's a long-standing mental infirmity in this squad, and in truth there has been for some time. No leaders, no responsibility and if this carries on, no hope. 

Lee Cattermole himself couldn't inject enough steel into this squad. By the time he's back from injury, it will likely be too late. 

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