Back in 2014, I travelled over from Dublin to see the Lads take on Swansea, but I genuinely couldn’t remember anything about the game until a quick glance at a YouTube video reminded me that I had missed absolutely nothing from it.
Gus Poyet’s men were having a solid, if unspectacular start to the season, with four draws and one defeat in their first five games.
The Sunderland manager had already cut a very frustrated figure, and had expressed frustration at the lack of transfer dealings during the summer window.
We had spent money, but not wisely, and it was clear from the early stages of the campaign that the team was toothless and blunt in attack. To Poyet’s credit, we were certainly quite solid at the back (until the 8-0 spanking at Southampton), keeping thirteen clean sheets in total.
Truthfully, this game was a stinker and neither team looked very threatening from an attacking point of view, with clear-cut chances at a minimum.
Of the two teams Sunderland looked more likely to break the deadlock, with Will Buckley particularly impressive throughout.
The ex-Brighton winger was direct and tricky, and gave Swansea full-back Angel Rangel a torrid time, with the defender eventually being sent off for a second yellow card.
Despite the frustration, Sunderland did have some decent chances, particularly in the first half.
Lukasz Fabianski was the slightly busier of the two goalkeepers, with the former Arsenal stopper making an alert save to turn away a header from Santiago Vergini after Seb Larsson’s pass-come-shot rebounded off the head of the Argentinian defender.
In all honestly, that was as good as it got until the final fifteen minutes, when Steven Fletcher had an incredible chance to win the game, heading narrowly wide after a great cross from Ricky Alvarez.
Both Fletcher and Connor Wickham almost won it for the home team, but their headers were both off target. Neither player had scored in the Premier League up to this point, underlining the problem facing Poyet’s side at this time.
At the final whistle, the Uruguayan looked up to the heavens and gestured to the sky- he must have wondered what more his team could’ve done to earn three points.
Afterwards, he expressed his frustration but also happiness with his team’s performance.
“What do we have to do to win a football game? We did everything.”
“We were the better team 11 v 11. We created chances and we were the team looking to get that winning goal.”
“When they had a man sent off it was even more like that but we can’t put the ball in the net and take advantage of our game.”
Poyet’s luck would change a week later, as Wickham and Fletcher would eventually break their duck, both scoring in a 3-1 victory over Stoke City. The upturn in form was short-lived, however, as the horror show on the south coast was just around the corner.