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Sunderland v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship

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Two Up, Two Down: Can you think of a single positive after watching that?!

Sunderland slumped to a dispiriting defeat to the Bluebirds on Saturday afternoon as our poor home form continued. What did our panel make of the game?

Photo by Cardiff City FC/Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says...

We’re only one place worse off

If other results hadn’t gone as well, it could’ve been worse.

We remain four points above the drop zone, but are now seven points from the playoffs.

No further injuries

Small mercies!

Wrong shape or wrong personnel?

I can’t help but feel that the shape and tactics weren’t right in the first half.

We didn’t play well but despite that, Cardiff had way too much freedom to pass and move. It felt like one of those matches where the opposition outthought us in terms of tactics and setup.

Tony Mowbray changed it after half time but that was maybe too late. Perhaps there was too much change in the middle with Abdoullah Ba and Dan Neil both starting, but whatever it was, it was a load of crap.

Too many poor showings

Apart from Anthony Patterson, almost everyone else had a poor day in terms of ball retention, passing and a lack of concentration.

Whenever we should’ve passed after one or two touches, we took four or five, and even ten yard balls were not coming off due to poor pace or a lack of accuracy.

Hopefully, we won’t play too many games when most of the team has a bad day, but we can’t keep playing like this and get away with it.

In addition, Birmingham, who we play next, won. We will have to do very well to avoid heading into the World Cup break on a downward trend.

Sunderland v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Cardiff City FC/Getty Images

Kingsley Reavley says...

Fans sticking with players

On an incredibly frustrating afternoon, it was pleasing to see the fans not losing their cool with the players in the second half.

The team had far more territory and knocked the ball about reasonably well, but they just couldn’t find that opening. In years gone by the moans and groans would’ve started, which doesn’t help anyone.

We’re a young side in a new division and we need to remain level-headed.

Danny Batth’s performance

I thought that Batth recovered well from his mistake which lead to the penalty in the first half, and he patrolled the defence expertly after that.

He won the vast majority of his ground and aerial duels.

The wrong starting eleven?

Baath, Corry Evans and Alex Pritchard have been the spine of this team for a while now. Taking out two of those players felt risky, and it’s fair to say that it didn’t pay off.

There’s a lot to be said about youthful exuberance, but we missed those experienced heads in the first half, and that’s what cost us the game.

Dan Neil and Abdoullah Ba lack the tactical nous and maturity to dictate a game in the Championship, and they were both overrun and outthought.

For me, Evans should be starting every game, because we’re a far better side with him in it.

Litter on the pitch

It may seem like a small gripe, but I struggle to grasp the concept of using the paper on the seats to participate in an excellent pre-match display, only to throw them onto the pitch afterwards.

It seems like a cretinous thing to do. They wouldn’t do it in their own house, so why do it at the Stadium of Light?

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

Mark Roberts says...

Patterson’s penalty save

That goes along with probably the most blocks and tackles I’ve seen in a half of football.

Our injury crisis easing?

By the time of our next home game, we could have a number of players fit, or close to being fit- Ross Stewart in particular.

Poor passing

There were so many routine passes that went astray on Saturday.

The ball by Bailey Wright, which led to the penalty, stands out, but we continue to make simple passes look difficult.

From Dennis Cirkin in the first half to Abdoullah Ba in the second, and Dan Neil hesitating on the ball, there are no excuses, because we were playing a team out of form and in decent weather conditions.

Team selection and substitutions

Tony Mowbray has got it right a lot of the time, and if he hasn’t, the substitutions often make a difference.

I’m all for giving chances to kids, but we didn’t have many experienced players on the pitch, and the only senior players were defenders: Luke O’Nien, Danny Batth and Bailey Wright. Without Corry Evans, Alex Pritchard and Ross Stewart, we are light on experience and guidance for the younger players.

After a lacklustre first half from Ellis Simms, he finally started to compete, but was then hauled off. Likewise, after finally starting to get on the ball and provide a threat, Patrick Roberts was also hooked.

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

Tom Albrighton says...

No plan B

Not for the first time this season, Tony Mowbray was undone by an inability to respond sufficiently to what was unfolding before him.

The team selection- whilst good on paper- simply didn’t work. Half time should’ve seen the changes made, but instead it was left until we were 1-0 down, by which point the plan was out of the window, and the ‘chuck it and chance’ approach ensued.

Disappointment for Ellis Simms

An abject, slow & overall poor performance from Simms gave credence to the feeling that at times we’ve been better without a striker.

He offered next to nothing and didn’t seem to put much work in to try and change it. Yes, he was isolated, but his body language said it all.

Amad in a spin

Amad Diallo hasn’t convinced me like he has with others and on Saturday, he showed me why.

Anonymous for large parts of the game, he struggled massively with his positioning and end product.

Plenty has been said about Amad’s pace and dribbling ability, but yet again he was rather unconvincing, and let’s not even discuss his shooting. £30m, you say? Someone call the police.

Our poor home form continues

Another abject home performance, and a growing feeling that playing at the Stadium of Light is a burden for too many of our players.

The players who thrived last season seem to be a shell of themselves at home, and if we are to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle, our home form will be absolutely key.

The players need to take a hard look at themselves and challenge themselves to step up to the plate in front of 30,000 supporters every other week.

Sunderland v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Cardiff City FC/Getty Images


Pause for thought


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