What The Gaffer Said
Sam Allardyce must be sick of going into these games only to see his team capitulate early on - and although he accepts we played some nice stuff, it wasn't good enough.
I have to apologise to our fans who travelled today.
We all knew it was going to be difficult against Manchester City, but I did expect us to show a little bit more fight and determination.
Losing three goals in the space of nine minutes is something you cannot do; you can't afford to make the kind of mistakes we made.
Our play out of possession has to improve and that is where our problems lie at the moment.
We can look neat and tidy in possession, create a few chances, but when we lose the ball we are not defending correctly as a team at this moment in time. Too many teams are scoring against us.
It isn't a slow start, because the lads were doing okay. With the lapses in concentration and the way City scored it looks like a slow start, but it's individuals at that moment in time not doing their job correctly.
Younes Kaboul is out and we know the key strength of the side is down the middle. John O'Shea was limping at the end and that makes life more difficult.
If we lose John, Wes [Brown] has only just come back from a bit of an injury and of course he hasn't played that much.
The only way to go forward is to get clean sheets.
Basically put, Allardyce knows the players aren't working hard enough and lack the concentration levels to stay focused for the full ninety minutes. Worrying.
Reliance On Injury Prone Players Could Be Our Downfall
Since joining the club in the summer Younes Kaboul has been injured five times. We knew exactly what we were getting into with him when we bought him, but I feel that our lack of forethought with regards to the summer's transfer business could see us relegated.
Funnily enough, we passed up on signing Nicolas Loembarts due to 'medical reasons', yet he's played almost every game for Zenit since the season started.
Younes is our best defender and having him gone for long periods of the season could ultimately lead to our downfall.
The same goes for Lee Cattermole - it's well known he has issues with his back and he was brought back into the fold early at the weekend due to our lack of central midfield options. It was his first start in a month.
With Kaboul out for two months, can you imagine how detrimental losing Cattermole for a sustained period of time could be to our survival chances?
Complete Lack Of Character Hurting Survival Chances
It's staggering just how many times now this season have we fallen to bits within the early stages of a game, giving ourselves zero hope of achieving any sort of a result.
It's just not good enough.
On the opening day of the season against Leicester we were 3-0 down at half time. At home to Norwich we were 2-0 down at half time. Away to Bournemouth we were 2-0 down at half time. At home to Man City in the cup we were 4-0 down at half time. Against Manchester United we conceded in first half stoppage time then conceded again immediately after the re-start. We were 2-0 down inside half an hour away to Everton. Away to Chelsea we were 2-0 down at half time.
Saturday was no different - we went into half time three goals down.
At what point are the players going to stop throwing in the towel early on and start acting like they actually care?
Strengthening Early In The January Window The Key To Change
There are some absolutely massive games in January that could be the key to us staying up and, for me, we'll only pick up points if new faces are drafted in early. It might come too early in terms of new signings by the time Villa rock up at the Stadium of Light on the second of January but by the time we play Swansea I'd like to think we'll have a player or two on board.
Jan Kirchoff has been linked again in the press today with a move here. I'll be honest, I'm no expert on the lad.
His injury record and lack of playing time in recent years is cause for concern but, with Sam Allardyce now in charge of our transfer business, I feel we have to give the manager the time and resources to put his stamp on the team.
For me, I feel we are missing a big, powerful forward that works hard to create their own chances. The success of the likes of Odion Ighalo, Jamie Vardy and Andre Ayew in front of goal this season is proof that this season is the season of the grafter. It may be that we need to take a gamble on someone from abroad as opposed to buying proven quality - unfortunately for us, those types just aren't going to come to Sunderland from other top flight clubs.
The Result Wasn't The Most Important Thing - The Performance Was
Look, I doubt that anyone was expecting us to pick up three points at the weekend. When the fixtures came out at the beginning of the season I'd hazard that most of us had the Manchester City away tie earmarked as a game where we might struggle to get anything.
With huge games against Liverpool, Aston Villa and Swansea coming up we needed the players to show that they have the bottle to take on any team and show that we're no pushovers.
Anyone coming to play Sunderland these days will view the game as a 'must win'. We need to somehow change that mentality and make ourselves hard to beat, like we were last season.
The best thing we can do right now is write off this game and use the Liverpool fixture as a platform for survival - the time is now to stop farting about. If we're going to stay up the players have to show why they deserve to play for this brilliant, brilliant club.