What The Gaffer Said
Martin O'Neill was clearly a relieved man having seen his side salvage a point on a frustrating afternoon. He told safc.com:
I'm delighted we came away with something from the game and that we didn't get beaten.
However, I felt that when Newcastle went down to 10 men we should have taken a minute or two to think about it, instead of getting anxious about it.
In the final third we were quite clumsy, we could have done better and we should have created a few more opportunities.
In the second half, I think sheer pressure alone yielded the equalising goal and because of that pressure I feel it was deserved.
We got the break and we had time to go get the winning goal, it might have been harsh on Newcastle, but then again it's almost like a reversal from our game with them last year.
The pleasing aspect was that even when time was running out we kept at it and applying pressure.
The crowd were willing the ball into the back of the net.
The noise that greeted the kick off was just fantastic and the noise that greeted the equalising goal was something I won't forget in a hurry!
It is interesting that he referred back to the game at The Sports Direct Arena last year. In many ways it was a simple reversal. This time it was Sunderland who had a numerical advantage and struggled to make it tell until a late leveler.
Much of what O'Neill says is true. The lads do deserve a bit of credit for continually pressing forward and not allowing their heads to drop when it wasn't going their way. But I am not sure the the spirit within the squad has ever actually been questioned. It is the lack of invention where the concern lies.
O'Neill condemned some rather unsavory chants from a section of the home support aimed at Steven Taylor, which are sentiments we certainly share here, although the Newcastle defender's comments in which he said he 'would rather collect stamps than put on that shirt' and not a single Sunderland player would be good enough to get in his team did not play a part in the manager's team talk.
It didn't figure in my team talk, but some of the players had passed comment about it.
He's absolutely entitled to his opinion. I am delighted he made their bench.
Lack Of Invention Not Down To Lack Of Quality
It is apparent that there is a lack of creativity in the Sunderland side right now. The attack is struggling to generate shots on goal and not looking very threatening in the final third at all.
One thing, for once, that we can't put it down to, though, is a lack of attacking quality. With Steven Fletcher, Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson, and James McClean there is an abundance of that.
I just wonder if it is a lack of confidence. Far too often they players wanted an extra touch around the box or a vital extra second on the ball to find that perfect opportunity. It just served to take the pace and fluidity out of the attack and gave defenders a chance to close them down.
In truth, our start has been difficult. Three of last season's top five have no been played, as well as possession-hogging Swansea and Liverpool. Has the lack of time on the ball affected them? It is possible. Likely, in fact, I'd say.
Suppose we just have to hope they play themselves into form sooner rather than later.
Credit Where It Is Due, I Suppose
Whilst we'll always be focused on Sunderland, sometimes the opposition do warrant a mention and even the most partisan of us would have to concede that Fabricio Coloccini was a colossal presence on the day for Newcastle.
Ever humble Mags manager Alan Pardew said that it was 'just like watching Bobby Moore'. Over the top nonsense, obviously, but he was certainly a huge factor in keeping Sunderland at arms length so effectively.
He was like a wall between red and white and the goal. A badly-styled, deeply annoying well dressed as a chocolate lime.
Seb IS Getting There
When the teams were announced the central midfield area was definitely the one causing concern for Sunderland fans. Questions have persisted all season about whether or not Seb Larsson is suited to the position.
But I think that slowly but surely he is starting to get there. Against Newcastle he was energetic, combative, and looked a lot more comfortable. When Adam Johnson is fit he is going to play, and right wing is his position. I think we all accept that.
The upside of having Larsson in the side however is evident. His set piece delivery once again came up trumps and produced a goal out of nothing.
If he can adapt to the position, and I think the signs are there that he can, I think it is well worth persisting with it - for now.
Buy Danny Rose - NOW
There were not many positives to be had from the performance, but Danny Rose was a real stand-out performer. Granted, it was his error that initially led to the Newcastle goal, but he more than made up for it.
Like most, I didn't really know what to expect from Rose when he was signed but he is really impressing. Ben Arfa can can be a tricky opponent but Rose contained him very well indeed, as well as supporting the attack with vigor.
If any kind of a deal can be done to sign this lad on a permanent basis, it needs to be discussed as a matter of priority.