Alese is just class, isn’t he?
There was plenty to gripe about from yesterday’s game, but one player who has consistently given an excellent account of himself recently is Aji Alese - and again at Swansea I thought he was absolutely brilliant.
We’ve got a proper future star on our hands with this player and I can’t quite believe he’s only played seven professional league games, because he looks more assured than most defenders I’ve seen come through the door at Sunderland over the last six or seven years.
One of the only good things to come from the spate of injuries we’ve had during the early stages of the season has been Alese’s emergence as a key player, and whilst Dennis Cirkin is back fit I just can’t see a way back into the side for him for as long as Aji is fit.
Patterson could be our most reliable player
Anthony Patterson has kept some of the scores more respectable than they probably should have been this week. Swansea’s performance across the ninety minutes probably deserved more than a one goal lead, but it was down to our excellent young goalkeeper why it finished 2-1 and not four or five.
Some of his saves in the second half were top drawer, and whilst he wasn’t always comfortable in possession, he more than made up for it with his heroics between the sticks.
I’m a proper Patto fanboy - I just think he’s got everything it takes to become a really excellent goalkeeper if he continues to progress at the rate he is currently.
For the first time, Tony got the team selection wrong
We knew going into the game that Swansea were going to dominate the ball and were going to make us work hard off it, so why we decided to go with three ball players in the middle of the pitch is beyond me. At half time I was baffled, because it was clear that Embleton, Neil and Pritchard would struggle in a game where they had to run more than they usually would, and for the first time since he arrived I was left questioning Tony Mowbray’s team selection.
All three of them were incredibly poor, and yet again they were all subbed off.
To be fair, I thought it was a bold move by Mowbray to give them a second chance after what I presume was some hairdryer treatment at half time, and the team as a whole definitely improved, but I can’t help but feel that we might have been better off with Matete and Ba in the middle alongside Corry Evans.
It’s in your bad moments where you learn the most about yourself, and maybe Mogga will reflect on the performance before next weekend and ring the changes.
Are some players too comfortable?
This leads me to my next point: are some of these players a little bit too comfortable with their places in the side?
The two that I’m thinking about most are Lynden Gooch and Alex Pritchard, who haven’t been at the races for a little while now.
Particularly Gooch - a player who I admire as a character, but sometimes wonder what he has to do to be dropped from the side altogether.
He’s been a favourite with almost every manager we’ve had since he became a first-teamer, and that’s because he’s got characteristics that all managers love - he’s hardworking, passionate, a leader, and not afraid to let his mouth go.
Sadly, though, his actual performances don’t always warrant starts in the team. This week he’s been especially poor, and after a great end to last season and a decent start to this one, his trajectory is following an all-too-familiar path - he seems too comfortable.
Tony Mowbray spoke last week about needing Trai Hume to stay ready in case he’s needed, and to be quite honest I can’t think of any reasons why he shouldn’t start next weekend against Wigan.
He’s never let himself down in a Sunderland shirt, and the man in front of him isn’t performing - give him a chance to prove his worth.
Good Response Second Half
Yes, things could only get better after the break - the first half was that bad!
I thought it was the first time we’ve looked out of our depth, but the response was great and on balance, we could have gotten something from the game, which is some relief at least.
Refreshing subs policy
Regardless of the result of the performance, how refreshing is it to have a manager who does not hesitate to risk losing more heavily in pursuit of salvaging something from a game?
Alex Neil, Lee Johnson, Phil Parkinson would have all been reserved in their changes, maybe only replacing Evans with Matete and not utilising the rest of the bench.
Embleton and Neil cracking under pressure?
That was as poor as I’ve seen both Embleton and Neil play this season, and neither were in great form after Preston and Blackpool either.
Ba, Matete, Michut, Diallo will all be breathing down their necks and all have performed admirably coming off the bench which won’t have gone unnoticed by the local lads.
Is the pressure being put on from the subs bench getting to them?
Possibly - yesterday was awful from both of them.
After weeks of not really having any competition for a place at right back, and sitting on a comfortable new contract, it feels a little bit Groundhog Day for Gooch.
He seems to have hit another of the slumps we see from him when things get a little too comfy. Yesterday we saw the Gooch whose decision-making was consistently wrong, who couldn’t complete a pass and couldn’t beat the first man with a cross.
Malc Dugdale says...
Worst half we’ve seen?
That first half was among the worst we have played all season. I think the shape was part of the issue and when we changed shape we improved, but that’s the first time I’ve seen the gaffer and the lads both perform very poorly.
We were a yard or more off everything Swansea did. We were lucky it was only 2-0 by half time. I’d name the poor players, but it would take too long.
Finishing was poor again
We had chances in the second period, but apart from the great strike from Clarke, we struggled to execute a well-struck shot on target even when we were well on top.
I’m not sure what is causing the lads to delay pulling the trigger, but we need to get it out of the way.
We have found a new attacking option
Jack Clarke did really well running through the middle and took his goal excellently.
While it was disappointing to lose, we may have stumbled across another option for up front while we wait for Ross and Ellis to return.
We certainly need something and that second half suggested he could help out.
We didn’t get humped
We won the second half 1-0, and if anyone had suggested that at half time I’d have laughed till my ribs broke, as we could have been 3 or 4 down and not complained.
We maybe even deserved a draw on balance, but we couldn’t quite get the second, and to be fair Patterson saved us from going three down a couple of times.
We have to remember we only just came up a level and despite a terrible first 45, we have still not been outclassed by anyone this season.
Lots to learn from Saturday, though. Lots and lots.