Lacking creativity & composure; Sunderland's festive frustration v Birmingham; five first thoughts

Those of us hoping for some early festive cheer have come away from the Stadium of Light a little dejected at a disappointing display after recent weeks as Sunderland were held by ten-man Birmingham. 

A frustrating afternoon means the festive period sees business return to normal on Wearside. After the cheer of last weekend, Sunderland returned to their usual selves to labour against the side bottom of the table who were down to ten men for twenty-odd minutes.

Here’s our five first thoughts on a poor afternoon at the Stadium of Light.

Awful result

Back into the bottom three for Christmas. With Bolton and Burton winning, a dour draw with ten-man Birmingham looks a poorer result than it really is purely for the spurned opportunity to begin clawing our way up the league.

Sunderland were outplayed at times this afternoon by a Blues team who have scored less goals than Lewis Grabban has this season alone.

Chris Coleman or not, Sunderland still look exactly what the Championship table tells us we are – one of the worst sides in the division. 2018 will no doubt bring a few more nervy weeks as the prospect of relegation continues to haunt the Stadium of Light.

Lacking creativity

George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch may play with energy but Sunderland are missing a creative spark in midfield. Aiden McGeady has been sacrificed in Chris Coleman’s present system but the Irishman represents roughly the only man capable of a moment or two of magic in the current squad.

The Black Cats simply lacked the nous to breakdown a Birmingham side scrapping for points. Coleman has begun to build a much more solid platform than his predecessor but this Sunderland side are crying out for a decent ball-playing midfielder who can actually create something.

The Lads had the ball in and around the box several times this afternoon but lacked the guile to make it count. Coleman will be all too aware that quite a few of his men are simply not good enough with the football at their feet. If the Black Cats boss wants to play with it on the ground, he has a way to go with this lot.

Tough slogs at the bottom of the table will continue like this afternoon’s effort without someone who can fashion opportunities against opposition fighting for their lives down at the foot of the table with us.  

Dead balls are still crap as well

Sunderland have been bad at set-pieces for years – probably since Sam Allardyce was in charge at the Stadium of Light, and so it continued today.

The only decent dead ball specialist owned by the club, Wahbi Khazri, is currently on loan in France and if Chris Coleman is drilling his men in training a little attention to set-pieces is surely needed for a Black Cats side who are unable to capitalise when they have a chance to knock a dangerous ball into the box.

Marc Wilson isn’t up to much

Deadline day signing Marc Wilson has failed to impress since his summer arrival on Wearside and was dodgy again today in Chris Coleman’s three-man back line. Say it quietly, but the Black Cats may well be missing Lamine Kone.

Wilson has featured in 11 Championship games now and has yet to stamp his mark on Sunderland. He may have cost nowt but the former Republic of Ireland international looks a pale shadow of the Premier League defender he was at West Brom and Stoke. Perhaps he can only play well in a Pulis defence.

Brum’s Sam Gallagher was more than a match for Wilson this afternoon until he was given his marching orders. Chris Coleman may well be busily scouting centre backs as we speak.

The end of 2017 will be tough

2017 has been a truly awful year to be a Sunderland fan. We've only won a handful of games and suffered a painful relegation followed by a dire start to life in the Championship. 

Next up it's two tricky away games - Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest - both sides who have already beaten us at home this season. The Black Cats will need to improve markedly on this afternoon's showing to emerge with anything from the pair of fixtures remaining this year. 

 

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