I’m not going to over-analyse the Tottenham game. It was a match we probably expected we would lose, although I feel the scoreline didn't reflect the way that the game panned out. We should have held out until half-time, and the way we casually afforded Spurs their first goal was annoying.
Even If we were winning at the break, I still think Spurs would have won, but perhaps not as comfortably as the final score suggested. We were still in the game until Sam Allardyce subbed Lee Cattermole off and although that probably cost us what could have been a great point at White Hart Lane, I can see why he did it.
Think about it; say we kept Cattermole on, even though he’d already been booked, and we still went on to lose the game. With Cattermole there's always the risk of an injury or a second yellow card.
Sam was saving his biggest player for the more important game, knowing full well that by keeping him on the pitch we were increasing our chances of being without him. It's debatable whether or not that is the correct thing to do, but I'm sure that Sam had his reasons.
Jan Kirchhoff had a debut to forget, but it’s important not to judge him just yet. He’s still getting back to full match fitness, and he’s only played twenty minutes or so of football for us. People can argue that he left Bayern Munich for a nominal fee for a reason, but I would counter argue that by saying he was at Bayern in the first place, so he can't be all that bad.
Speaking of transfers, as everyone knows by this point, Costel Pantilimon has left to join Watford. I liked Pantilimon but, like every player we have it seems, he had his flaws and Allardyce recognised he was probably costing us more points than he was saving us. His poor distribution and inability to deal with close range strikes was becoming a real issue.
Don't get me wrong, Costel was an important player for us for the most part, and is a very capable shot stopper. The two saves of his which stand out to me both came against Newcastle. The first one was from Moussa Sissoko’s long-range shot last December, which lead to Adam Johnson scoring the winner at the other end. The second was to deny Aleksandar Mitrović at the Stadium of Light when we were winning 1-0 earlier this season - that save proved to be important as we cruised to victory.
Another player who has departed is Danny Graham, who has joined Blackburn Rovers on loan until the end of the season.
As an individual, I like Graham, and you can never question his work rate or willingness to try. Just look at the way he celebrated his goal at Everton - you could see how much it meant to him, and I really wanted it to work out. Thst said, he scored only one goal in THREE years at Sunderland. As much as I admire his passion and effort, the harsh fact is he simply isn’t good enough to play at this level.
As for potential incomings, Lamine Koné looks a no-go for good, whilst the chase for André Ayew continues to drag on. I can’t help but feel that we have wasted a precious two weeks on chasing Kone, when we could have been looking elsewhere. That said, there's nothing we can do about it now.
Ayew remains an interesting target, and we've reportedly offered a player-plus-cash deal to his club in order to try and secure his signing. Whilst Swansea have insisted he isn’t for sale, I’d be surprised if they weren’t tempted by a good offer, especially considering they got him for free last summer. I’d personally like to keep Fabio Borini - the player allegedly offered to Swansea - as I still think he has something to offer, but if it meant getting Ayew I wouldn’t be against the idea completely.
While I think Ayew would offer us a bit extra going forward should we sign him, it’s defenders we need. Steven Caulker I would have liked to see sign for Sunderland, although I think I’m in an extreme minority on that one. Curtis Davies from Hull wouldn’t be a bad shout should we choose to explore it, and you'd think that with his contract almost up at Hull he'd be available fairly cheaply. We'll see.
There will of course be things going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, so I’m trying to be level headed when it comes to who will and won't sign - there are still just under two weeks left of the transfer window, after all.
In the meantime, I think we must write the Tottenham defeat off and throw everything we have at getting three points on Saturday. Hopefully, come five o'clock on Saturday, we'll be on twenty=one points and looking forwards rather than backwards.
Ha’way the Lads.