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Quick Kicks: Chris Coleman needs a new goalie to save our season; Lewis Grabban is Mr Reliable

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In our post-Millwall edition of Quick Kicks we take a look at the main talking points coming away from the game - how much of a priority is finding a new goalkeeper in January? You can always count upon Lewis Grabban; and how much of a miss was Didier Ndong?

Sunderland’s ‘keeper situation is critical

Poor Robbin Ruiter had an absolute shocker in goal on Saturday afternoon.

The Dutchman criminally allowed a George Saville free-kick creep through his legs, and then moments later his pathetic effort at saving another free kick from the same player saw us go behind in embarrassing fashion.

When Ruiter was brought in on a free transfer after impressing during a pre-season trial, the general feeling amongst the supporters was that of optimism. This was a man who was not only courted by ourselves, but Premier League sides, so it would be safe to assume that we were getting a half-decent stopper.

Unfortunately, we’ve yet to see a performance from him which suggests that he is anywhere near the standard expected of a goalkeeper at this level.

Ruiter has conceded 16 goals in nine games. Ouch.

Mind, Jason Steele is not much better. The former Boro stopper has conceded 20 goals in 10 games.

Coleman needs to put goalkeeping at the top of his ‘must fix list’.


Lewis Grabban is proving his worth every game

If Chris Coleman is looking to highlight positives within the group of hapless players he’s inherited, then he needs look no further than at Sunderland’s top scorer Lewis Grabban.

The ex-Norwich striker again showed his poaching instincts on Saturday to fire Sunderland ahead early in the first half. The man on loan from Bournemouth then scored a perfectly good goal in the second half that should have put Sunderland 3-2 up, but the ref disallowed to the bemusement of those of us in attendance.

The stats show that Grabban nets once every 117 minutes, and he has six goals in his last five games - our new gaffer will definitely take heart from the fact that we have a genuine goal scorer in our ranks to call upon whenever he’s needed.


Was Didier Ndong a miss?

When I first heard the news that Didier Ndong would miss the Millwall game I was concerned, mainly because it likely meant that the out-of-form Lee Cattermole was certain to start the game. But, I have to admit, Cattermole and his partner in the centre, Paddy McNair, played fairly well together and perhaps gave us a glimpse of what could be a decent pairing going forward.

Northern Ireland international McNair is not only a decent holding player but he looks a goal threat and is good on set pieces, which is what puts him ahead of the rest in my opinion.

Bury v Sunderland - Carabao Cup First Round
N’Dong was not missed on Saturday
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

And though he has offered us very little this season, we all know what a fully-fit and motivated Lee Cattermole is capable of - nobody expected that he’d have been as poor as he has been this season when it began, particularly after he started so well against Derby County on the opening day of the campaign. But, if Coleman can work his magic, who knows - maybe there’s life in the old Catts yet.

Jonny Williams - a man that thrived as an international player under Coleman for Wales - has a creative spark, and a coolness on the ball that we lack in other positions.

If his time as Wales manager tells us anything it is that he likes to pack the centre of the park, meaning it’s very possible that Coleman might opt to deploy a five man defence and a three man midfield.

There have been murmurings of rumours that Didier Ndong might be one of the players sold in January - a natural assumption to make considering his age and potential - and if this is common knowledge at the club you just have to wonder how much attention the new manager will pay the Gabon international over the coming weeks and months.