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Quick Kicks: Midfield Product, Paddy The Man

Sunderland's season is up and running with a 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion. Here is what we made of it.

Clive Rose

What the gaffer said

If you said we were going to get a point away from home in the first game of the season, you would probably say it's a good way to start.

We started the game very well and we got an incredible goal - the best probably from [Lee] Cattermole in his whole career.

Then we had a difficult spell because we lost the possession and the decision from the referee to give a penalty changed the course of the game.

If we went into half time at 1-0 it would have been a totally different story, but I thought we were much better in the second half.

We were better on the ball and much more aggressive. Credit to the boys that they kept pushing - and to Seb [Larsson] for getting the ball and scoring.

Product from midfield

It's something that Gus Poyet has alluded to as well but it's well worth mentioning here because we've whined about a lack of goals from the midfield plenty before, but it was great to see two of the three central midfielders get on the scoresheet at the Hawthorns.

It wasn't just the goals from Lee Cattermole and Seb Larsson that were welcome either. The incisive defence-splitting pass from Jordi Gomez opened the whole thing up. Much more of that please, Sunderland midfield.

Paddy attacking upside outweighs lapse

Patrick van Aanholt was at fault for the second West Brom goal when he was caught napping at the back post, and I'm sure he'll be pretty disappointed with that. However, the fact he also created the equaliser has provoked mixed opinions on how he performed.

I suppose it depends a lot upon whether you consider the primary function of a full back to still be the defensive side of the game. Personally, I am not so sure. For me, full back has become such a demanding position that it no longer has a primary function. There are now the football version of cricketing all-rounders, expected to do a little bit of everything without being held to the sand standards of their specialist colleagues.

But the way I look at Van Aanholt's performance at the Hawthorns is that players can be taught how to defend. They can be drilled on where to stand, what to cover, and how to concentrate. That's really more of the mental stuff. But you can't teach the kind of attacking flair that he showed. We probably need to be patient with him, but I think Van Aanholt offered far more cause for optimism than concern on his debut.

An important point gained

Like many fans, I was quite confident of getting all three points against West Bromwich Albion but upon reflection it's a very good point gained.

The Baggies are likely to be one of the teams down there come the end of the season, and denying them three points at home probably hurts them more than the two dropped points hurts us. It was quite a typical new-manager performance from them. They were frantic and full of running, trying to impress, but there wasn't much in their game from a tactical point of view.

As the season progresses, they will likely lose that edge as the energy levels they showed are tough to maintain, whilst I'm confident we will improve once the transfer window close and Poyet gets his teeth into his squad properly.

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