Chris Coleman's men travelled to South Yorkshire on the back of a few decent results. Top scorer Lewis Grabban was ruled out with injury, resulting in the Black Cats going with a lone striker in James Vaughan.
Pubs and First Impressions
There were a range of pubs in Sheffield city centre for those who travelled by train, or even those on coaches as it was a short ten minute walk from Bramall Lane. Right across the road from the ground was the Cricketers Arms which was a 'home fans only' pub but that rule didn't really seem to apply. The Sheaf Island was the most common choice for the visiting support as it was a five minute walk away from the ground. The ground from the outside looked like a block of flats when walking from the city centre.
In the ground there were very few choices of food. A pie and a bag of crisps was about as far stretched at the kiosks; over priced chocolate and sweets were also on offer. The pies themselves were a bit empty but did the job, the beers inside the ground were of limited selection too.
The match was bitterly disappointing for those who braved the Boxing Day cold, Sunderland never really showed up and it looked like some players had one too many Christmas drinks. The defence looked disorganised and one step off the pace, as did the rest of the team, Marc Wilson looked especially poor. The Irishman couldn't find his own player to save his life and quite often put his teammates in awkward situations.
The deadlock was finally broken by John Lundstram after he was picked out by Mark Duffy, the former Everton trainee rolled home from the edge of the area past the helpless Robbin Ruiter. In all fairness, the defence should've done better as nobody picked up Lundstram or closed him down when he got the ball. This wasn't the first occasion at this point of the game and Sunderland were rightfully punished.
Aiden McGeady disappointed when he hit a shot from the edge of the area out for a throw on the far side. The Glasgow born winger seems to be walking around the pitch thinking he's bigger than the club, and he's not the only one.
The bloke in front of me was urging for a 'clearance' every time we got the ball at the back; when we did clear the ball, to his delight, we conceded the second courtesy of Richard Stearman. The centre half headed in Mark Duffy's free kick from 30 yards out, after a Ubited counter attack; he was completely unmarked and neither O'Shea or Wilson picked him up.
Jack O'Connell then finished off the visitors with a header five minutes after Stearman doubled the Blades' lead. He out jumped full back Bryan Oviedo, in a mismatch, something which seems to be a regular occurrence.
Post match thoughts
Chris Coleman admitted that it was a poor performance and the players didn't turn up. The Welshman left it too little too late to bring on Joel Asoro at 3-0 down. Aiden McGeady, the so called luxury player, failed to impress and looked lazy. He may as well not have been there.
Some fans chose to leave early and you cannot really blame them, it was a disappointing performance and it looks like the whole squad needs overhauling in January. Chris Coleman needs some massive investment in the transfer window, if not that then some big sales of the chancers that we have left.
If you ask me, I think the whole squad needs rebuilt and revamping, everyone who's kicked a ball in the Premier League for Sunderland, apart from a select few, needs to be sold in January. I think that it's the fact that they're not interested in fighting and are looking complacent, George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch and Oviedo seem the only ones trying. However, Honeyman may put the effort in but he just lacks the quality, Oviedo has been the only consistent player this season.
Hopefully, we can get over the defeat and actually put up a fight against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Saturday. Mark Warburton's men were hammered 3-0 by managerless Sheffield Wednesday at home on Boxing day.
Hope you all had a great Christmas and have a happy New Year.
Keep your eyes peeled as I've caught up with club historian Rob Mason and chatted with him about past and present.