Let’s get the main negative out of the way early.
What on Earth was the thinking behind bringing on Billy Jones and Jack Rodwell when we did? It was nothing more than a thinly veiled invite for Hull to come at us more and ramp up their pressure, which they did - ultimately scoring a late goal which won them a well-deserved point.
I can understand that certain players were tiring, and our other options on the bench aren’t great, but I have to say that taking off Callum McManaman handed the initiative over to Hull - the former Wigan winger was, truthfully, the only Sunderland player that looked capable of hurting them and with him off the pitch it showed our opponents that the game was there for the taking should they wish to come at us.
In the first half we were excellent but in the second we sat far too deep. Our lack of fitness in these big games is costing us dearly and though Hull waited until the 82nd minute to get their goal, it always felt like it was coming imminently.
‘Respect the point’
If Sam Allardyce was still Sunderland’s manager he’d urge us to ‘respect the point’, and when attempting to find middle ground in your thinking towards what happened at the KCOM Stadium yesterday it’s perhaps important to keep those words in mind.
I’m gutted - annoyed, in fact - that we threw our lead away but on the balance of how the second half played out, we should probably be thankful we escaped with a draw. And if we’re really clutching at straws, it put an end to a losing streak which I honestly didn’t see ending any time soon.
The players looked more confident, particularly in the first half, than they have in a few weeks and it’s perhaps a good starting point for getting our season back on track. I agree with what Damian said in this week’s ‘Grayson’s Anatomy’ - for the first time in ages, we looked like we had a plan and it only started to fall apart when we tired. Add McGeady and Watmore to that mix and it’a decent side - it’s just a shame we seem to be waiting so long for it all to come together.
Vaughan off the ground
I’ve been one of James Vaughan’s biggest critics in recent weeks but nobody was more delighted than me when he scored his first goal in Sunderland colours yesterday afternoon.
Perhaps he’s finally starting to learn - we don’t need him haring around the pitch chasing down lost causes, playing with his back to goal, we need him getting on the end of crosses and focusing on his movement in dangerous areas.
Either way that’ll have done his confidence wonders and with Lewis Grabban facing a spell out on the sidelines it should perhaps offer some comfort seeing our only other striker finally show some goalscoring prowess.
McManaman already looks a bargain
I’d hazard that Callum McManaman is only about 60% fit at present and his full-on style of play further increases the need for him to reach peak fitness soon enough.
That said, we’re already seeing glimpses of what he’s capable of - he looks a real handful and his delivery in to the box is superb. He couldn’t have made it easier for James Vaughan when his excellent cross landed on the head of the former Everton striker.
McManaman needs to get up to speed fitness-wise but with Aiden McGeady out of the side it’s nice to see him performing capably, and going forward I can see him being a really important player for us. Considering the fact that he cost us £0, that’s pretty damn good business in my eyes.