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Quick Kicks: Saints v SAFC Thoughts & Reaction

The way Saturday's game at St Mary's Stadium ended should surprise nobody. Sunderland are incapable of doing things the easy way.

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What The Gaffer Said

Feeling pissed off at the way we threw away the three points? I bet nobody was more vexed than Sam Allardyce, who looked like he'd just caught Virgil Van Dijk humping his wife when the Dutch defender grabbed the equaliser at the death in Saturday's game.

The frustration was clear in his post-match brief - this should definitely be viewed as two points dropped.

I think the dejection amongst us all is clear. It was important to see the game out but we conceded the goal with 30 seconds left. We should have taken three points here today which would have made life easier for us.

Because we've thrown two points away we have increased the pressure on ourselves again by not achieving that clean sheet. With having no game next week, when we would have played Everton, if we'd have got three points today we would have had that gap to look after.

But we allowed Southampton to score a goal which really should have been prevented given the number of players we had defending the box. We didn't have the composure to keep the ball in the opposition's half, get in the corners and see the game out. We didn't do that and paid a heavy price.

I was delighted with the number of clear-cut chances we created, apart from the fact we could have finished them better. We got the one goal with Southampton down to 10 men, but one goal has not been enough for us since I've been here.

I've seen enough [that we will survive] but not the results that the performances should have given us.

It's frustrating, but we hope that our performances will give us the victories we will need.

When you watch the way we've played recently in comparison to Newcastle and Norwich it gives me hope, but by the same token playing well alone isn't enough. We need to start winning ugly - are these players capable of it?

Central Midfielders Aren't Contributing Enough In Attack

Lee Cattermole, Yann M'Vila, Jack Rodwell, Jan Kirchhoff, Sebastian Larsson and Ola Toivonen - our central midfield options - have one goal between them this season.

I don't think scoring goals this season has been our main issue, but for me the central players aren't taking enough ownership offensively. There's definitely an over-reliance on Jermain Defoe to bag for us and I have no idea whether our central players have been told not to shoot, but I doubt it.

The amount of times on Saturday M'Vila and Rodwell were in shooting positions and didn't have a try was slightly annoying. They need to start adding goals if we are to get further ahead in games, because in order for us to win at the moment we need to score at least twice.

Tinkering Cost Us - Again

When you are 1-0 up going into injury time it's fairly common that a manager will make a substitution in order to run the clock down. It happens every week, in every game, so when Sam Allardyce made the decision to bring off Jan Kirchhoff for John O'Shea it should have came as no surprise.

Rather oddly, however, Allardyce decided that with two minutes to go we needed to change our shape and go five at the back. This hasn't served us particularly well in the past when making the switch later on in games, so why now?

Jan Kirchhoff was easily our best player again on Saturday. Much like the Palace game we seemed to go to pot without him on the field, and the change in system almost certainly cost us the win in my eyes, because John O'Shea's inclusion on the pitch meant he got nowhere near Van Dijk for Southampton's equaliser.

Whilst Sunderland's players should shoulder the majority of the blame for not seeing out the game, Sam Allardyce deserves to be questioned on why he felt the need to change our shape at such a late stage in the game. It was unneccesary.

We're Out Of The Bottom Three...

Touch wood we can stay in seventeenth place by the time the derby comes around. I don't rate Newcastle's chances of beating Leicester a week today highly, but the way things have gone in the Premier League this season it wouldn't shock me in the slightest if they somehow managed to win. Norwich host Manchester City in the early game on Saturday and I guess we'll get a better understanding of where we are at once that game is over, because as great as Manchester City are their form recently has been patchy.

Even though we stand currently outside the bottom three, we still need to rely on Newcastle and Norwich to slip up if we are to survive. I think of the three teams we have the best chance of survival but everything can change if either of those two sides manage a win over the weekend. If Steve McClaren loses his job, you have to imagine it will give Newcastle a timely boost, though the likelyhood of that depends upon a quality manager making himself available to them.

I don't want to worry too much about what is going on elsewhere, but it does help. As daft as it sounds - considering today is just the seventh of March - we have only one game remaining this month, against Newcastle. Before they play us, the mags have a game away at Leicester and then the other side of the derby face Norwich. It's an absolutely massive period for them, because failure to beat both Sunderland and the Canaries will likely spell relegation for Newcastle.

I'd take our position, form, players and manager over anything Newcastle or Norwich can offer up. That said there is such a long way to go, and with plenty of time off this month we really could have done with beating Southampton at the weekend. Imagine sitting here and talking about being three points clear of Newcastle?

We never do things the easy way.