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Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship

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Talking Points: “Luke O’Nien showed the rest of ‘em what a committed performance looks like!”

Whilst the performance was frustrating, it wasn’t surprising - and though O’Nien’s performance was one of a few positives, it’s important we don’t get too carried away with the result on what was a freezing cold night...

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Frustrating, but not surprising

Not one Sunderland fan watching that game was surprised when West Brom scored both of their goals - you could see it coming a mile off.

Why we sat and let it happen is beyond me.

They had clearly targeted our left hand side in the second half and whilst the response was to bring Jack Clarke and Dennis Cirkin on to give us something different down that side, it made no difference and we still failed when stopping basic crosses into the box.

Then once the game had escaped us, Mowbray waited until the 88th minute to make three positive changes - and by then it was of course far too late for any of them to make an impact on the game.

This isn’t the first time this has happened this season, and we have to learn quickly.

The games are about to come thick and fast and there’s no escaping that our home form has been poor this season. There’s no need to panic, but we have to learn quickly from this defeat and this performance - the second half just wasn’t good enough and for the first time this season I felt myself questioning the desire of some of the players. I know it was cold and conditions were difficult, but that’s no excuse really. We had to give it our best effort collectively and, unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case for all of the players.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Take O’Nien’s shirt if ye dare!

Whilst positives were in short supply, I couldn’t possibly write this piece without talking about the performance of Luke O’Nien, who once again was fantastic at centre half.

Obviously, he’s very much aware of the impending return of Dan Ballard and that performance felt like him showing us all why they’ll have to drag his shirt off his lifeless body if they want to stand any chance of taking him out of the team.

The way he applies himself makes him such a valuable player for us, and had his teammates played with the same desire as he did across the ninety minutes we probably wouldn’t have thrown away the three points.

Write him off at your peril!

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Important not to get carried away

Yes, it was crap, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I think inconsistency is going to continue to be a feature of our play in this league, and for every 3-0 win over Millwall there will be a night like last night.

It doesn’t have to be that way, but I guess that’s just life in the Championship.

We aren’t struggling and we have goals and wins in us, so I’m not overly concerned. And if we can tighten the squad up in January and get the likes of Ballard and Stewart contributing soon, we might not lose these games in the second half of the season.

There’s plenty to be pissed off about but I don’t think we need to be rash.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Well done for turning up

Half of my mates cried off from the game because of the weather, and I can’t blame them really... it was absolutely freezing. In fact, I’d say that’s probably the coldest I’ve ever been at a game, and I was wrapped up in as many layers as I could put on.

It might have been our lowest attended game of the season but given the fact it was a monday night, broadcast live on TV, and the weather was brutal, I don’t blame people for deciding not to go.

If you did turn up - hats off... or maybe not, you might catch a cold.

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