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Quick Kicks: Thoughts And Reaction From FC Midtjylland 0-1 Sunderland

The final preseason game is in the bag. Here is what we made of it.

Robert Cianflone

What The Gaffer Said

There is no way to dress this up - Paolo Di Canio appeared to be spitting furious!

I’m not very happy, I would rather have seen the team lose and turn in a good performance rather than win with a poor performance.

I know that when there’s a revolution you can take two steps forward and then two steps backwards - as a responsible man I wanted to see a better performance.

It’s not the end of the world; we have 10 days to get ready for the new season.

Today has been a learning curve; I have noticed certain things from certain players and watched their behaviour throughout the game.

There are some positives to take, but overall I think there is still work to be done.

It’s a crucial week ahead of us. I want to see improvement over the next few days.

The game against Fulham will be tough, as will the whole season and we have to be prepared.

It is quite difficult to know quite what to make of these comments from Di Canio. The performance was far from perfect but it was okay and not really rant-worthy.

Did it genuinely annoy the manager or was he simply exaggerating his wrath to make a preseason statement about standards? There is probably a lot in the latter.

Front Four A Handful

Though it was a game sparse in quality, Adam Johnson's early winning goal was rich in class. Not just the finish either.

Tellingly, the goal involved all of the front four. Giaccherini scoop-passed (Sunderland players do that now, apparently) into Sessegnon, and he found Altidore with a first time headed pass. From there the American backheeled (Sunderland players do that apparently now too) to Johnson, who curled it into the top corner.

They won't get that kind of time to play in the Premier League, but that they are all on the same wavelength and working as a unit already is very encouraging.

Full Backs Nearly There

Okay, I think we all know that we need a pair a new full backs. At the start of the summer, however, that was only half of the issue. The tactical role of the full backs at the club had to change too to something much more modern. On this evidence, that has happened.

Di Canio is on record as saying that full backs must be wingers when his team has the ball and positionally that is precisely what they were, each taking up very advanced positions right on the touchline.

Now we just need to find a couple of suitable players bring the most out of those positions.

Big Gaping Hole In The Middle

For all the obvious need for full backs was evident, it was nothing compared to the huge gaping hole in the middle of the park. Cabral seems busy and efficient enough and a step up from what preceded him, but there is just a real absence of genuine class in that area for Sunderland.

It is easy to get washed away in silly clichés like 'bring the keys to the house', 'put his foot on the ball', and 'pick a pass' here. However, what it simply boils down to is that someone is needed in the area with authority on the ball.

You just feel that he will be the player who links everything together - the new attack-minded full backs and the new fluent front four; The central piece of the jigsaw that lets you figure out the whole picture.

Positive Preseason

With the preseason program now complete, the obvious question to ask is whether it has been a successful one. It's a tough one to gauge.

With no emphasis on results and lots of new signings to distract us, we can often miss important things whilst reading too much into others.

I think it has generally been a positive few games though. Of the five played, including the two behind closed doors, four have been won and the big players are impressing.

There is only one real way to find out for sure, though, and we don't have long to wait now.

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