Quick Kicks: Thoughts And Reaction From Reading 2-1 Sunderland

Scott Heavey

Sunderland endured what was probably their most irritating defeat of the season at the Madejski Stadium. Here is what we made of it.

What The Manager Said

There was frustration seeping out of just about every word in Martin O'Neill's post-game comments.

I don't know how we lost the game. We had a couple of great chances to win it and it's very disappointing to be on the losing side.

We got back into the match after conceding an early goal, a bit like at Wigan, and it was deservedly so with the penalty kick.

With 10 minutes to go you thought that if any side was going to win it that it would have been us, then we conceded the goal - a header from two yards out - and it's hard to take.

It was a very difficult pitch to play on, but I thought we applied ourselves well considering the conditions and I thought we were creating the better chances.

The goalkeeper made a fine save to deny Danny Graham late on and Alfred N'Diaye had a chance go wide at the near post.

Overall we've lost a game with four minutes to go that we shouldn't have lost.

It is easy to share his frustration. Some might argue that it is a game we deserved to win on the balance of chances and, whilst I probably wouldn't go that far personally, I would certainly suggest that it was a game we didn't deserve to lose.

The Madness Of Titus

In midweek Titus Bramble rightly took the plaudits for a stunning last-gasp block to deny Swansea a late winner, but this week he proved why no team could ever dream of achieving consistency as long as he is in it.

His talent is not in question. It never has been. The player that Sir Bobby Robson saw in him all those years ago is still there - somewhere. We see it occasionally.

In this one we saw the other Bramble, though. The daft and dozy lad with a veritable flair for the inexplicable. The one who, after spending 85 minutes watching first-hand the quality set piece delivery of Ian Harte, gifts him an opportunity with a needless and ultimately costly foul.

Bramble is a player I find tough to dislike and one that I have always rooted for, but if consistency is what we want, then he can't be part of it.

Negative O'Neill?

In the fallout from this defeat we have once again seen accusations thrown at O'Neill of negative tactics. It is the same every time we lose and even sometimes when we don't, like Wigan for example.

I am not sure it is entirely fair, though. At 1-1 away from home, O'Neill took David Vaughan off and replaced him with James McClean, and that doesn't look like a negative move to me.

When chances aren't being created, I think it is fair game to ask some questions about the philosophy of the manager. But unless it was him who was missing the chances and giving away the plethora of stupid free kicks that eventually caught up with us, then I am not sure we can blame him for this one.

Graham Will Score Goals

He wasn't on the pitch for long, but Danny Graham certainly made an impression. He got himself in a couple of very good goalscoring positions and that bodes very well for the future.

What his role going forward will be is up for debate right now. Some see him partnering Fletcher in a traditional front two, and some see him as the advanced forward in a more fluent and modern system with the Scotsman tucked in behind.

Wherever you stand on that point, I'd say a defence would have difficulty containing the penalty box movement of both of them.

What Not To Do With Sessegnon

The ‘Sessegnon conundrum' is a puzzle that has stumped just about everyone for ages now. Striker? Midfielder? Winger? Inside forward? Attacking midfielder? Just where on earth do you fit in this unquestionably talented maverick?

I still don't have an answer to that, but I think we are closer to finding out what not to do with him.

The last few games has seen him line-up on the right wing, possibly for the first sustained spell in his Sunderland career. It hasn't worked and I don't think it will any time soon.

Sessegnon is not the kind of player who will go down the outside and whip in crosses. You get him running away from goal and you have all but totally negated his threat. You want him running at goal, like he did for spells against West Ham and Swansea recently after picking the ball up on the left.

Hopefully, O'Neill has seen enough of the Benin international on the right to know that it isn't an experiment worth pursuing.

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