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It’s The Hope I Can’t Stand Fanzine: Grayson’s priority needs to be sorting our leaky defence

If we can lick this defence in to shape and we keep scoring, we’ll be laughing.

Brentford v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Look at the defensive records of any successful team and they will have, 99% of the time, have a good defence. Of all the great teams, you can usually name their centre backs.

Liverpool had Alan Hansen and Phil Thompson, Manchester United had Gary Pallister and Steve Bruce, Arsenal had the trio of Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Martin Keown.

I didn’t even have to look those up.

Then from days of yore there is Muller, Moore, Gentile.

Oddly enough, I can’t think of a single Brazilian defender. Only when you have as creative a unit as Brazil did in 1970 can you forget about the defence - that said, even they won the World Cup Final against Italy 4-1.

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So what the hell is happening to the Sunderland defence? Of our seven away games this season, we have been leading at half time in five of them, then to go and spunk the victory in the second half four times. Only once have we converted that first half dominance into a win. Our only win of the season, I might add.

At Norwich, 1-0 at half time and we won 3-1. Sheff Wed, 1-0 up at HT, draw 1-1.

Hull, 1-0 at HT, draw 1-1. Preston, 1-0 at HT, draw 2-2. Brentford, 3-1 at HT, draw 3-3.

Norwich must be thinking they’re pretty crap to be the only team to succumb to us this season.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

This wouldn’t have happened under Keano, when the team become the fittest in the division. On paper our team is no worse than a lot of the other teams in the upper echelons of the division. So what is it? Fitness? Confidence? Psychology?

A team capable of averaging two goals per away game shouldn’t be harvesting such a paltry points total. Keep to the same defence and let them get to know each other and maybe we could start stringing some results together. So maybe it isn’t the likes of Thome and Bould - but a strong partnership can mask technical deficiencies.

Question is: can we keep our nerve and stick with the same partnership?

But who? Tyias Browning looked good at Preston and John O’Shea marshalled him well. Lamine Kone is an expensive want-away, but was a revelation under Sam Allardyce and that has to be considered.

If we can lick this defence in to shape and we keep scoring, we’ll be laughing.

See - easy this management lark!

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