Half Year Report
This weekend marks exactly half a year since this season started. That's twenty-six weeks since Sunderland began the campaign with a defeat at Manchester City.
And how many Sundays have the Wearside faithful enjoyed that winning-feeling? Yep, five. Five Premier League wins since David Moyes was installed as boss in twenty-five attempts.
Most managers would have been jettisoned by now such are the pressures of English football, but Sunderland are a unique case and the bi-annual ditching of managers has got us in this position - so wisdom dictates Moyes will be here for the rest of the haul.
Defeat at the hands of Southampton is no disgrace and Claude Puel's men looked impressive at the Stadium of Light. Mannolo Gabbiadini made the headlines with his two goals clinching the game before half-time, but the likes of Bertrand, Cedric, Tadic and Redmond were also very good - though made to look all the better by a desperately poor Sunderland showing.
The Sunderland players gave up and the fans turned their backs in disgust - again. Here's how the media reflected on Southampton strolling to a four goal victory at the Stadium of Light.
The Sunday Papers
Yesterday's two goal Saints hero was almost born to write the Sunday headlines.
Manolo Gabbiadini rekindled memories of his namesake Marco on Wearside as Southampton cruised to a 4-0 Premier League victory at bottom-of-the-table Sunderland.
It will be 30 years in September since Marco Gabbiadini arrived at Roker Park in an £80,000 switch from York and forged a partnership with Eric Gates which brought him 87 goals and a permanent place in the hearts of Black Cats’ supporters.
And the Sunderland legend was even in the crowd yesterday to watch his namesake write this weekend's sorry tale on Wearside:
Southampton's £15m striker scored twice to show that he possesses the same instinct for goals as the Sunderland legend who was in the crowd yesterday.
Marco stayed until the bitter end, but only a tiny proportion of that crowd remained by the time Southampton added two further goals in the closing stages, with Shane Long scoring after Jason Denayer put through his own goal.
Southampton will now depart for some warm weather training in Spain whilst Sunderland will head for New York.
The Telegraph's Luke Edwards points out that February is still too early for the annual miraculous run which has characterised previous Sunderland survival stories:
If there is a small smidgen of comfort for Sunderland after a demoralising defeat, it is probably too early for them to launch their latest installment of the Great Escape. The Black Cats revival does not normally start until the Spring, which remains a long way off on Wearside.
And Edwards is scathing in his assessment of what he saw as thousands had already headed for the warmth towards the end of a desperately cold, desperately depressing Stadium of Light yesterday:
This, though, was not just a defeat, it was a capitulation, a hoisting of the white flag in surrender. That is unacceptable and thousands of home supporters deserted in disgust, pouring out of the stadium with more than ten minutes left to play.
No one can argue with any of that. And on the subject of this week's team-building trip:
Sunderland manager David Moyes is taking his players on a team building trip to New York on Monday, the city that never sleeps, which is just as well, as he will have a few restless nights pondering how a team so impressive in beating Crystal Palace away the previous weekend, could lose so meekly to Southampton at home.
Sunderland's team bonding trip will now likely heavily feature a reflection on how they managed to throw away what was a great chance to escape the bottom three and how the team that had thrashed Crystal Palace a week earlier made a Southampton side who have their own issues look so impressive:
Sunderland will fly to New York and a week’s “bonding break” featuring daily runs in snowy Central Park thoroughly chastened by Manolo Gabbiadini and his Southampton team-mates.
Before the match this looked a perfect moment for Moyes’s players to entertain Southampton. Quite apart from Sunderland being fresh from a 4-0 win at Crystal Palace, Puel’s team were supposedly distracted by their impending League cup final against Manchester United - or that was the theory at least.
The last word goes to this stinging assessment of how yesterday afternoon panned out by Martin Hardy of The Times:
'Abandon hope all ye who enter here.’
It should be emblazoned at every turnstile at the Stadium of Light, the home once more of a not so divine comedy.
There was no laughter when it finished yesterday, aside from those from the South coast, bouncing their way to Wembley, superior in every single department.
When Neil Swarbrick, the afternoon’s fourth official, held up the sign to reveal that there would be three minutes of injury-time, their supporters burst into song. ‘We’ve got more fans than you,’ they cried.
And those words should chase the sorry state of them all the way to New York, and back.