What The Gaffer Said
Martin O'Neill had little in the way of excuses and a lot in the way of frustration once again. He told safc.com:
We started off very tentatively and the first goal we conceded was poor and the second was even worse.
Then before you know it we were two nil down before we even got started.
In the second half we came out and we played completely different and we should have taken something out of the game - the second half belonged to us.
There were plenty of opportunities and really good chances in the game but we spurned a lot of them.
We didn't get going until Craig [Gardner] scored and there's absolutely no reason for that.
We should have taken something from the game.
It's very frustrating to come away with nothing.
The game mirrored last week's defeat against West Bromwich Albion. Started slowly, give away a couple of sloppy goals out of nothing, back in it with a Craig Gardner goal, but not able to go on and take something that was probably deserved from from game.
It is difficult to disagree with O'Neill's analysis really. Frustration certainly the overriding emotion.
A Rabona Does Not A Player Make
Ever since Matthew Kilgallon produced an eye-catching rabona against Manchester City last season, he has become a popular player amongst the fans with 'never puts a foot wrong' and 'never lets anyone down' being particularly popular phrases to describe the former Leeds man's contribution.
But he has let people down and he has put plenty of feet wrong. He was yanked off the park on two occasions last season, once having allowed Kevin Davies to basically strut around the Stadium of Light owning the place, and that is something that doesn't happen to good and reliable Premier League defenders.
At Carrow Road however he had a total shocker. Two basic errors in the build-up to the second goal by, first, being two feet behind his colleagues and then turning his back on the play as he tried to block the shot. To compound the horror he also missed an open goal at a crucial time at the other end.
I like Kilgallon as a decent honest pro, and he is only playing because of Steve Bruce's penchant for buying injury prone centre backs on the wrong side of 30, but he isn't up to it and it is time people started to accept it.
At least we'll always have the rabona...
Game Of Two Halves
It is probably about the most tired football cliché out there, but this one was definitely a game of two halves!
In fact, it was both the best performance of the season and the worst one all inside the same game. I defy anyone to find a worse attempt at football by a Premier League side for the opening half an hour than the one we produced.
By comparison, however, the second half was vibrant, crisp, and penetrative.
It is absolutely maddening that Sunderland can't put a performance together for a full 90 minutes right now, and frustrating that just about every chance we give up is being gleefully gobbled up by the opposition whilst we squander our own, but the second half at least shows that there is quality in the side and the players are still very much playing for the manager.
Return Of The Monolithic Menace
If anyone was wondering if Martin O'Neill had given up on Connor Wickham then think again. Having entered the fray at half time for the injured Steven Fletcher, the former Ipswich man unquestionably produced the most polished performance of his Sunderland career to date.
It was a performance that was light-years ahead of the last time we saw him get good minutes in a Sunderland shirt. He used his body better, bullied defenders, and made something out of just about every ball that came his way. He has clearly been working very hard with the manager on the training ground.
I have said it before but Connor Wickham's potential is absolutely frightening. Once he gathers his game together he will be very hard to stop. Lets hope he gets more opportunities to do that from now on because he looks like he is coming along splendidly.