Grayson must drop Cattermole
Lee Cattermole was poor again today.
As has been covered in detail recently on this site, our apparent on field leader just can’t get around the pitch like he used to.
Whilst he’s never been the quickest, his anticipation and speed of thought made him a highly impressive holding midfielder in his prime.
He now lacks the physicality to impose himself on games and has to be dropped.
Without his mobility Sunderland are effectively starting a below-average passer at the back of our midfield alongside another player who lacks the composure and ability to play a key pass.
Preston’s second goal came as a direct result of Cattermole losing a midfield runner - something that rarely happened three years ago.
The former Wigan man has suffered a plethora of injuries throughout his career and has been playing men’s football for well over a decade. His decline shouldn’t shock anyone - and Simon Grayson cannot ignore his obvious weaknesses any longer.
Darron Gibson is far from perfect and lacks speed as well, but his passing comfortably exceeds Cattermole’s and the Irishman represents a much better fit with Didier Ndong.
Grayson deserves credit for dropping Kone
Dropping Lamine Kone was not an easy decision.
The Ivory Coast international is the Black Cat’s most gifted defender by a distance. His strength and aerial ability are tailor made for the Championship and the 28 year old was one of our three best players in August. He put in a man of the match display as recently as our draw against Hull City two weeks ago.
But, it’s clear we lack communication and leadership at the back, hence why the former Lorient defender was likely dropped to the bench.
Simon Grayson deserves huge credit for not indulging Kone any longer - Sunderland looked a much more committed outfit without him.
Brilliant to have Watmore back
It was great to see Duncan Watmore back on the pitch. His pace caused Preston all sorts of problems and I firmly believe that he will continue to disrupt defences at this level.
With the 23 year old back - along with the return to fitness of Jonny Williams, Aiden McGeady and Callum McManaman - Sunderland have genuine depth and options in attacking midfield.
If only we had a fit Championship level striker to complement them.
Championship officials are awful
The most frustrating and infuriating aspect of accepting Sunderland’s demotion to the Championship has been the standard of refereeing.
Chris Kavanagh was cowardly today.
He set the tone with his appalling refereeing of the Lynden Gooch penalty incident, early on. He gave a goal kick when there was a clear collision between the forward and a Preston defender.
There was an argument that the American went to ground too quickly but the incident was either a penalty, or free kick for diving. Giving the goal kick was a clear example of a referee bottling a decision.
The most egregious call was his failure to send off goalkeeper Chris Maxwell for a handball - an incident that everyone but the three onfield officials saw clearly.
After long deliberation Kavanagh gave nothing. This was at best a referee losing his nerve and doubting himself at a key moment. At worst, it was a referee blinking scared of upsetting a home crowd.
Sunderland should have had three penalties today, and Kavanagh’s failure to award one was unacceptable.