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Sunderland v Burnley - Sky Bet Championship

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Two Up, Two Down: Despite the sour end, are there any positives to take in defeat to Burnley?

Despite going 2-0 up after a superb first half, the Lads somehow ended up on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline on Saturday. How did our panel see the game?

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Jon Guy says…

Our first half performance

It was everything we had hoped for from the team.

We looked committed, controlled, composed and confident. We scored two good goals and we looked like we could get three or four.

Jack Clarke

He was a threat all afternoon, and he showed what a good player he is.

He was kicked throughout, but stuck to his guns and looked to turn the Burnley defence at every opportunity.

Pressing the self-destruct button… again

We didn’t learn from the midweek game at Blackburn, when we came out after the break without our heads in the game and were punished for it.

The first twenty half minutes of the second half were predictable, and given the level of fight we’ve shown this season, it wasn’t great to see, because our heads dropped too quickly.

Tactical and selection errors?

You have to ask why Tony Mowbray didn’t opt for Bailey Wright.

The game plan is brilliant when we’re on the front foot, but when Burnley got into the game, our defence was under real pressure and we looked too lightweight all across the park.

They are top of the league, so we knew there would be periods when we would be on the back foot, but we need to build a foundation on which our flair players can do their thing, and not solely rely on Corry Evans to win the ball.

Sunderland v Burnley - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says…

We came out flying!

A scintillating start showcased the best of this Sunderland team.

The players came out brimming with confidence and with a point to prove after our midweek robbery, and the opening forty five minutes was the perfect reaction- it’s just a shame it only lasted that long.

A very poor second forty five minutes

An abysmal second half showcased the worst of Sunderland and possibly of Tony Mowbray.

Whilst I’m a fan of Mowbray and how he manages this squad, the forewarnings of Blackburn fans rang truer than ever.

As Sunderland cancelled out almost every positive from the first half, Mowbray's inability to see what was coming and change our shape to nullify Burnley’s second-half onslaught was rather worrying.

At the moment, we’re very easy to defend and to attack against, with anything out wide being the killer and the most efficient way to get at us. It still hasn’t been remedied and it doesn’t look like it will be any time soon.

Luke O’Nien struggles in defence

Whilst it’s not Luke’s fault, he’s not a centre-back and his role of ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ really harmed us yesterday.

Losing his man for the first goal, losing his runner for the second (although not entirely his fault, it was a contributing factor) and he wasn’t even on the same planet for the fourth goal. We need to move past using him as a useful stand-in for when we have nobody else.

His use and performance highlights the need for the recruitment team to look to bring in specialist players for specialist roles. If we want to stay in this division, we can’t have players who can possibly do a job in there for the time being- we need out-and-out professionals in every role.

Sunderland v Burnley - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says…

Playing the best teams and competing with them

We’ve played two of the division’s top sides this week, and at times we looked every bit as good as them.

We never seemed to be two goals poorer than Blackburn Rovers, but I thought we were fully deserving of such a margin at half time against Burnley, and I take encouragement from the fact we can give anybody a game.

Bearing in mind how inexperienced some of the team was, and how much we gave up in terms of size and physicality, there was a lot to be positive about before the break.

Quick feet

It was typical that no sooner did Tony Mowbray suggest that Patrick Roberts is the best player in the division than we had to manage without him.

Roberts has real quality on the ball, but he is not the only one. Some of our close control, turning and dribbling has been superb recently.

Both goals displayed some fantastic technique. We’ve got a squad full of exciting prospects and I think there is still more to come.

Dropped points

We’ve twice led by two goals at half time at the Stadium of Light this season, but have only come away with one point to show for it.

I know there have been extenuating circumstances on both occasions, but letting points slip at home could cost us if it keeps happening.

Sunderland could barely find any rhythm the after the break and we struggled to get out of our own half. It has been a while since an away team dominated so much on Wearside, and hopefully it will be a while before we see it again.

Sore points

Rather than congratulating a very good Burnley side on an impressive showing, I’ve come away from the ground grumbling about a long list of gripes, many of which aren’t even that important, if I’m being honest.

Some issues do matter though, so I’m going reel everything off now - if nothing else, it will get stuff off my chest!

The handful of Burnley fans that were acting up in town beforehand and the idiots throwing missiles during the game should take a long hard look at themselves. I also saw a bottle being thrown towards the players from the home end after Burnley went ahead.

We all know that measures need to be taken in that regard, but other aspects of supporter safety have to be reviewed, too.

The public address system is still difficult to hear in some areas of the stadium; groups are allowed to congregate in areas, which can lead to bottlenecks, and the car parks in are full of trip hazards such damaged drainage covers, the remains of old barriers protruding, and pot holes.

Perhaps I notice it more because of the line of work I am in, but maintenance is sorely needed in one or two areas.

Also, seeing a steward smirking after we conceded and seemingly revelling in our defeat really wound me up. I know I need to get a thicker skin, but if you are taking money to do a job, at least have some standards and a degree of courtesy.

Three defeats in four games is not great, but all is not lost.

Luton Town could be another tough fixture but we have a week to regroup, and I love the fact that the club is putting on public training sessions and tours during half term. I hope that the feel-good factor starts to return over the next few days, and that we can get a few more positive results before the World Cup.

Sunderland v Burnley - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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