What The Gaffer Said
It was one of those days for Sunderland where just about everything went against us.
On the balance of play - and considering the chances we had - we really should have taken at least a point from this game, but didn't. Although it's not the end of the world, that extra point could be crucial come the end of the season and nobody knows that more than Sam Allardyce.
In the second half we were kicking towards our own fans and getting them on the edge of their seats, showing them how determined we were to come back from the very disappointing goal that we conceded in the first half.
For us today, not converting those chances that we had is a massive disappointment. We’ve not picked up any points from the game and from the chances that we created I think we should have been going away with all three.
Away from home you’re always happy to take a draw and to get a point, but we haven’t even done that today.
We can’t afford to keep doing this, we did it against Manchester City, but we need to start making sure performances like this get us wins.
One of the big positives is our second half performance and when we introduced Jack Rodwell. He came on and got three chances himself in the space of ten minutes.
Jermain [Defoe] will be disappointed after missing the couple of chances that he had.
Today is massively disappointing for us, the lads know that we should have come away with something and they’re bitterly disappointed that we didn’t.
Now we have to recover, Tuesday’s game becomes a real pressure pot for us at home against Crystal Palace. Everyone will want us to say we’ve got to win it and that’s what we must try and do; if we play like we did today I think we can.
We can take confidence from today’s performance going into that game and realise we need to be more ruthless and clinical to get the result we need.
Simply put, Tuesday's game against struggling Crystal Palace is a must-win. Regardless of how many fixtures we have left, you cannot come out of a home game against the most out of form side in the league without three points.
I'm not suggesting we go into panic mode - far from it - I just feel that when you come to the end of the season whether we stay up or not will go down to whether we win the games against the likes of Palace at home. Sam will be absolutely gutted to have come away from Upton Park with nothing because, lets face it, it was there for the taking if we wanted it enough.
Drop Lee Cattermole
I'm sorry, I love the guy, but he's being asked to play a role that just doesn't suit him. You either take one of Jan Kirchhoff or Yann M'Vila out of the side and put him back in his favoured position, or you drop him. He cannot play as an attacking midfielder.
I actually wrote an article not too long ago on here hailing the impact he has on our side and feel a bit silly saying this now but it's doing nobody any favours having him maraud around like a headless chicken trying to put central defenders under pressure.
This is the issue we face now. Kirchhoff and M'Vila are probably our two strongest midfield options right now, which leaves Sam Allardyce with a huge decision - do you sacrifice the leadership qualities that Cattermole brings to the side in order to revive some balance?
It pains me to say it but I think he has to. In the last two games we've looked a far better team with Jack Rodwell playing further forward and in asking Cattermole to do a job that doesn't suit him he's being hung out to dry. I even feel that if the role is just for the player to chase down defenders and occasionally provide a through ball to Defoe then even Fabio Borini would be a better option at this stage.
He's one of our best players but having him run at defenders in the final third of the pitch helps nobody. We may as well play with ten men.
Kirchhoff Deserves Immense Credit For Turnaround
When I watched on with horror at the calamitous debut of Jan Kirchhoff away to Spurs in January I couldn't help but feel we had been sold another dud from a big club. Lets face it, he was absolutely abysmal.
The way he's managed to turn around the perception of his abilities - especially with me - is nothing short of phenomenal. We were told he was a defender, but when I watch him effortlessly glide around the pitch and provide the sort of simple comfort you don't get when Yann M'Vila or Lee Cattermole are on the ball, I can't see anything other than a classy deep-lying playmaker. He's brilliant.
I refer back to the first point I made in this piece - the fact I and many others are questioning the inclusion of one of our most influential players in Lee Cattermole is tantamount to just how great Kirchhoff has been since being allowed to flourish as a central midfielder.
Decision Making Has Been Poor & Needs Addressed Quickly
Whose stupid idea was it to let Dame N'Doye take a free kick in a position that Wahbi Khazri has proven throughout his career he's capable of scoring goals from?
In what world was Patrick Van Aanholt trying to control that punt down the line which lead to their goal a better choice than putting it out for a throw in?
Khazri is more than capable of crossing a ball with his left foot, so why on earth would you try and rabona the ball into the box when we're losing a game that is almost over?
Nip it in the bud now, please.
On To N'Doye...
I feel he earned his place back in the side after a decent showing against Manchester United, but it was clear after the hour mark that whatever he was being asked to do just wasn't working and I'm frankly baffled as to why Sam didn't feel the need to bring on Fabio Borini at any point during that second half.
Was I missing something? Was N'Doye playing well? If I was then please, correct me.
Palace Result Now Huge
Lets not allow the way Palace almost fought their way back into the game at West Brom trick us in to thinking they're anything remotely like a potent threat. They aren't. They've been absolutely awful recently and anything less than a win is unacceptable. Sorry, I know that's fairly brutal, but it is the truth.
We have so many quality sides yet to play at the Stadium of Light and when an opportunity comes around to play a team at home who haven't won any of their last ten league games then there are absolutely no excuses for not winning that match, not if we are going to survive.