Quick Kicks: Thoughts And Reaction From Southampton 1-1 Sunderland

Clive Rose

Sunderland were denied their first win of the season at the death at St Mary's. Here is what we made of it.

What The Gaffer Said

It was probably a calmer Paolo Di Canio that emerged after the game than we might have expected.

It was a tough game away from home, the players have worked their socks off and we nearly came away with all three points.

Maybe we wouldn't have deserved that, but last week we did deserve to win and that didn't work for us either.

We looked very good after taking the lead; physical presence is important during set pieces but if you're an intelligent player and work well you can have the same effect, this is what Giaccherini did to get his goal and he took it very well.

He wanted a goal and now and he has his first, I hope it will be a big lift for him and he can go and push on.

Overall, I think we did well in the game, there were a few moments when we were under pressure where we should have done better.

We were punished late in the game and it was a poor goal to concede. We must make sure we learn from this mistake that is very important for the team.

Coming away with one point is good enough for today, now we move on and we start to look ahead to MK Dons in the Capital One Cup.

May be a touch of pragmatism is what was needed. Though it didn't really feel like it at the time due to the nature and timing of the equaliser, it was probably a very good point. Certainly it was a point that very few, fans and pundits alike, expected us to get.

It was also a deserved point - one that was competed hard for. It's a start.

Larsson Steps Up

Seb Larsson isn't everyone's cup of tea in the centre of midfield. I think we all accept that and we all hope that a more creative and assertive force arrives before the end of the transfer window. But one man who is a big fan of the Swede is Paolo Di Canio, and this game highlighted why.

From a defensive stand point, Larsson had a remarkably good game. He was disciplined, he filled in when others went forward, and he pressed at the right times. It is a manager's dream.

We want more from the midfield. We need more from the midfield. However, Seb Larsson proved he still has plenty to offer this squad when needed. His limitations should not define him.

The Good

To concede late is always annoying, and the goals that Sunderland are conceding at the moment are especially irritating. We can take plenty of solace from the fact that we are not being opened up much, though.

In the last 5 games, Di Canio's men have conceded 5 goals (one per game) but only one has come from inside the penalty box in open play. The others have been set pieces (three) and one Gareth Bale screamer.

That shows that the shape of the side is set up and working well, with teams finding it tough to play through the midfield to get at the defence. There needs to be more quality from the middle, but the organisation on show since Di Canio's appointment provides a genuine platform upon which to build.

The Bad

Two games this season, two fairly sloppy goals conceded from set pieces, three points (at least) probably dropped. It is a difficult realisation from which to escape.

I fully appreciate that we are not the biggest side and Di Canio himself has demanded more size be added. I also fully accept that Southampton are very strong in the air and also possess some real quality delivery.

But it is a weakness that simply must be erradicated. At this level, in this league, a team who can't defend set-pieces is one who will simply haemorrhage points - and even with some midfield quality added we are unlikely to to find sufficient goals to fail to feel the effects.

The Ugl... 'Unseemly'

The real shock for me wasn't so much that Cabral was left out of the starting line-up, but that David Vaughan was turned to from the bench before the former Basel man.

Now I don't know if Cabral is suffering from an injury, whether Di Canio was trying to deliver a message to someone, or what. What I do know, however, is that David Vaughan is just squad litter at this point.

He is neat, he is tidy, and he has a derby-day screamer to his name. He is a difficult player to dislike - actually he is a difficult player to even remember sometimes - but he isn't going to offer anything in a Di Canio system.

He arrived here off the back of a very good season for Blackpool in a midfield three. That is significant. He didn't have to do as much running or cover as much ground and he was more closely surrounded by team mates.

Here he just doesn't have those luxuries. His lack of mobility and presence, not size but actual presence, is brutally exposed when in a central two and he doesn't have enough real quality on the ball to make up for it.

It is imperative that Vaughan is moved on before the deadline so room can be made for someone fit for purpose.

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