Sunderland set piece woes have been the prime catalyst for our poor start to the new campaign. Had we defended these with any real organisation or composure, we would theoretically have at least four points on the board. So where exactly has this huge defensive shortfall stemmed from? Well, one person we certainly can’t blame is Martin O’Neill.
Paolo Di Canio may be facing criticism from many quarters for Sunderland's inept performances so far this season, but he did not show he was under pressure at all when he turned out as a late call-up for Steve Harper's testimonial on Wednesday night. The Italian would have surely known he was putting himself in the firing line to receive the wrath of most of the 50,793 fans who packed St James' Park.
I am not quite sure how Lee Cattermole may be feeling after being wooed by a snappy-dressed Italian suitor last week. Did their eyes meet across a crowded room or was it more showered in broken crockery? Perhaps he is as enchanted as in the Rogers and Hart love song 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,' which some may be thinking.
It’s been over ten years since we last witnessed the delightful and prolific partnership of Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn terrorise the Premier League with their little and large combination on top of their goal score abilities. The memory of the pair scoring against Newcastle will forever be etched in my mind for the rest of my life, quite simply, they were idolised, and rightly so, during their time at the club.
Paolo Di Canio’s stint as Sunderland manager was short lived. It was both delightful as it was depressing. Intriguing as it was infuriating. Exciting as it was…erm…unforgettable. You will not get a more memorable 13 games out of any other manager – let me tell you that! As an ode to the Italian madman, we felt obliged to diarise his time in the hot seat.
With Charis Mavrias soon expected to join Adam Johnson and David Moberg-Karlsson in Paolo Di Canio's options on the right flank, it is fairly apparent to all of us that Sebastian Larsson is no longer seen as a right midfielder by the manager. His pace is not what it used to be and without that trait, he doesn't really seem to fit into Di Canio's sharp, quick attacking strategy. The manager prefers the idea of having inverted wingers – hence Adam Johnson being seen as a right-sided player with his deadly left foot – and Larsson’s style of play would not be suited to being deployed on either wing as long as this game plan is kept intact.