What The Gaffer Said
We're two games in and already David Moyes is giving off the impression that the task he faces as Sunderland manager is not going as well as he had initially hoped.
If you were hoping for the Sunderland manager to come out, hold you close and tell you that everything is going to be alright then you might be disappointed - Sunderland are in a very precarious position on and off the pitch, though Moyes, Short and Bain have ten days to put things right.
Speaking to George Caulkin after the game about fan's fears that Sunderland are in a relegation scrap, Moyes said, "They’d probably be right because that’s where they’ve been every year for the last four years, so why would it suddenly change?". Sobering.
Moyes was slightly more upbeat in his post-match email, crediting the players for their performance despite the various roadblocks placed in our path.
I thought we didn’t deserve to be 2-0 down at half time; there was some poor defending on some occasions and their first goal was really good, however, before then Middlesbrough had barely been up the park.
Before the goal I thought we were the better team, we lost our way 10 minutes before half time when we lost John O’Shea to injury; that didn’t help and we had to change it quickly.
The second goal was poor and there are things we need to work on, we’re giving people games at centre back who’ve not been here long and we were short of midfield players today too.
The players who came in today because of injuries did a really good job. In the second half I thought [Lynden] Gooch was terrific and Steven Pienaar did brilliantly after coming on; everyone stuck to it. Papy [Djilobodji] had a good game, he looked really solid.
We struggled to find a real balance with the team today, but I think everyone understands we need more players in.
The fans were brilliant; I hope they understand it’s going to take time and we have some problems at the moment that we’re trying to make better.
Nothing new said really - Moyes hopes the fans understand he's trying to put things right, but with time running out he's going to find that with each passing day the Sunderland supporters are going to become more and more impatient. Don't expect a big crowd at the Stadium on Wednesday, Davey.
Gooch Deserves Credit
Ignoring all the crap that surrounded the farce that was yesterday's game, it's important that we recognise a number of aspects from the performance yesterday that gives us hope for the future.
The last thing you want to do with a young player is place them straight into the frying pan, so to speak, but I feel that Lynden Gooch coped tremendously when asked to play in the centre of midfield in the second half yesterday. He's a wide-man by trade but Gooch shouldered the responsibility of attempting to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and, alongside the debuting Steven Pienaar, he performed admirably.
Let's not kid around, he was hardly Zidane - or to a lesser extent, Jan Kirchhoff - but he showed maturity at a time in the game when we badly needed it. He dug in and worked his socks off, injuring himself due to tiredness in the process.
If Duncan Watmore is considered a first teamer at Sunderland then so too should Lynden, who in my eyes is the more well-rounded of the two.
McNair And Love Are Not Ready
I know I'm stating the obvious here but anyone who watched the game yesterday can probably agree that Paddy McNair and Donald Love are not ready to be thrust into the rigors of Premier League football just yet.
Love never hid, mind - he got stuck in, worked hard and tried his best to contribute, but I feel he just wasn't good enough on the day. He'll benefit more from taking a backseat and learning from the players around him. The sooner we sign a quality right back to play in front of him, the better.
Paddy McNair was different. When the game was still 0-0 he did alright, making a number of decent tackles in the period where there was very little pressure on us to dig in. When we went behind, however, McNair was visibly shaken and looked completely bereft of confidence, to the point where Moyes felt the need to remove him from the game at half time.
These lads may well come good but they clearly are not ready for first team football, something which concerns me. Luke Ball (son of Kevin) raised an interesting point over on Twitter:
I don't think they will be particularly bad long term signings. But the 2 ManU buys are part of the reason I despair with our youth policy.— Luke Ball (@LukeyKB87) 21 August 2016
Luke is right - these two boys are obviously not up to it quite yet, but when we are spending big money on them there is an expectancy for them to play. Are they really better than players we already have in the system? It certainly devalues the merits of Sunderland's academy somewhat when we are more prepared to give Donald Love a chance ahead of Josh Robson, a player that probably could have stepped in and done a better job at right back in the last two games than Love has done.