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Further Fitness Could Give Black Cats Legs

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Having yet to win a single game in the current Premier League campaign are the Black Cat's current problems borne from a lack of fitness? Roker Report's Graeme Atkinson takes a look...

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Supporting Sunderland can be likened to having Stockholm Syndrome. We're all in love with a team that holds us captive week in and week out. This weekend's result has tested our affection yet again.

However if there is one piece of positivity, one pin sized speck of light in a deep black chasm of negativity it's that the players will surely improve once they get further match fitness in their legs.  It's not much in the way of hope is it?  But it's all I've got for you.

The players we've signed during the summer were not only late arrivals, some had effectively been ostracised by their previous clubs.  Toivonen, M'Vila, Lens, Yedlin, Kaboul and Borini et al either had little or no pre-season with us.  In fact, Kaboul and Borini were off training on their own because Spurs and Liverpool respectively left them to rot.

So often in sport success is achieved by the smallest of margins. Therefore when a team is so far off the pace, both in terms of physical condition and in what is required in respect of team shape, this inevitably makes the job even harder.   Advocaat will know only too well that time is not on his side.  The history books tell us Ellis Short gets itchy on the trigger finger around this time of year.  The longer it takes for the Dutchman to get that first win under his belt the more anxious supporters will get.  The more frustrated fans become the more nervous the players get.  It's a vicious circle but one we've become accustomed to riding around in.  Speaking after the game against Bournemouth Advocaat said:

"All respect to Bournemouth for winning and what they do and what they have done in the past, but we don't need to lose a game like this, in my opinion. But we did.  Bournemouth are passionate and we knew that. That is one of their strengths, and also they have skill too.  But the way we gave the goals away at this level, I'm sorry, that's not possible."

Advocaat also spoke about where things go from here:

"I will think about it myself, the meeting, the training, the wrong line-up - everything. I will discuss everything with the staff.  But I have also told them (players) they have to face it as well because what we bring and what they bring is different."

You do begin to wonder whether we'll now return to a more cautious style of football last seen under O'Neill's stewardship, maybe even a tweak of the shape too.  There is clearly a need to shore up the defence and quick.  We have no chance of doing anything positive while we're leaking goals.

The problems we're seeing should be put right with fitness, hard work on the training ground and perhaps a reassessment of the formation. We'll know more about where we stand in the next month or so.  We just need to make sure that we're still in the pack otherwise if we're not careful we could be cut adrift by Christmas.