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Quick Kicks: SAFC v WBA Reflection - Was A Draw Enough?

Ok, I'm a little late. Sorry. Blame it on Wrestlemania.

Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

What The Gaffer Said

Sam Allardyce stressed the importance of winning pre-match, and for the forth game in a row we came away feeling disappointed that we didn't take all three points.

It’s hard to find the right words to describe what has been a disappointing day, but also a very pleasing one.

Without any question that was the most outstanding performance I’ve seen since I’ve been here and we’ve had some really good ones.

The second half, in terms of wanting to win and wanting to score, was just, time after time and West Brom just couldn’t get out of their own half; the chances kept coming and coming but then they kept going and going.

There could have been better finishing but there was also some great goalkeeping; if we hadn’t been offside at the end and it had been a yard the other way it would have given us all the delight we deserved.

We’ve never deserved three points more than today and with the position that we’re in, it has made the result difficult to take.

I can’t give anything but praise to the players for the way they applied themselves and the way they played today.

The fans got behind them because they had so much to cheer from that performance, apart from the ultimate and that was going away from this weekend with a victory.

We still have a game in hand and with seven games to go I have to believe we will win more games than we draw or lose.

Sam is rightly disheartened that we couldn't get it done. As hard as we are to beat, there clearly isn't the right blend of resilience and efficiency in our side and, well, that's why we're third bottom of the league.

Sam's Subs Poor Again

I seem to be writing about this every week but yet again Sam Allardyce's use of his substitutes was poor on Saturday. It was clear at half time that the three defence-minded central midfielders just weren't working well enough together and despite it feeling fairly obvious early on, Sam persisted.

Yann M'Vila had his worst game for us in a long time and I felt the introduction of someone like Jack Rodwell, Seb Larsson or Ola Toivonen might have brought us something different in the final third.

No Jeremain Lens on the bench either - why? We don't exactly have a dearth of quality attacking options and when we were crying out for one, he brought on Dame N'Doye.

I'm fairly convinced now that Sam doesn't really have a plan B. If he did, he wouldn't keep leaving us short through his poor use of his substitutes.

Mannone's Kicking Our Weakest Link

When you're using your goalkeeper 90% of the time to relieve pressure, you really need him to be able to kick. On Saturday I lost count of the amount of times that Vito Mannone aimlessly kicked the ball up field either a) to nobody or b) towards Jermain Defoe, who was being marked by central defenders much bigger than he is.

I guess it's half the battle that Jermain Defoe isn't particularly big so finding him aerially is always going to be hard, but when Mannone is punting the ball away it's not relieving pressure at all. If anything, it's making our midfield work even harder to win back a ball that we really shouldn't have lost.

Kirchhoff Quality Is Something Else - But Balance Is Needed

Every game that Jan Kirchhoff has started - bar the Manchester United game where he went off injured very early - you could make a very valid argument that he's been the best Sunderland player on the pitch. He's absolutely brilliant in every area and I'm baffled at just how we managed to get him for such a low fee.

However, his success has provided us with a rather worrying headache - whilst his performances have remarkably improved, the form of Yann M'Vila in particular has suffered.

I had absolutely no idea what Yann M'Vila's job was on Saturday. He seemed to be far too deep and his passing and general play was sloppy, as it has been for a number of weeks.

You look further forward and Lee Cattermole was working hard further up the pitch. Some say he played well but I'm not so sure he did - I felt that Cattermole struggled whenever he had to provide us with an attacking outlet - particularly in shooting positions - and I just feel that maybe Sam was asking the wrong man to work further forward. Would M'Vila have been better suited to do what Cattermole was doing? Who knows I suppose. It's all ifs and buts.

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