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Sunderland v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship

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Two Up, Two Down: Picking out the positives & negatives from Sunderland’s 3-1 loss to Swansea

The loss of Luke O’Nien ultimately made the difference on Saturday, as the Lads were eventually beaten 3-1 by the visitors. What were the positives and negatives to take from the game?

Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Ian Bendelow says...

Onwards and upwards for Dan Neil

Neil has come in for some criticism this season - some fair and some unfair.

When Corry Evans was absent for a couple of games over Christmas, Neil really stepped up, and he’s continued this now that Evans is back in the side.

Some of the more justified gripes were based on Neil being half a yard off the tackle, not being physical enough and allowing the game to bypass his sphere of influence. However, that certainly wasn’t the case against Swansea.

He was tenacious in the tackle and his anticipation was superb - both in breaking up play, and for his goal.

If he plays like this consistently, the sky’s the limit.

Losing in the right way

A strange one, but I’ve said on a number of occasions that this club needs somewhere to go next season.

If we finish in the top six this campaign, certain sections of the fan base will moan if we’re not in the running for the top two next year. Now they don’t decide whether Tony Mowbray is sacked, but they change the atmosphere in the ground.

Therefore, if we’re finish outside those places, we’re going to have to lose some games, and that brings its own sense of jeopardy from those who are divorced from football reality and where we are as a club.

We need to lose in the right way and yesterday was a perfect example of that.

I’ve got no criticism of the performance and I’d rather have won, but if we’re going to lose, it should be as an injustice - it’s the best way.

Who’s the moron in the black shirt?

If Keith Stroud was a politician, he’d be the wretched love child of a three-way relationship between Nadine Dorries, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg, where no one is quite sure who the father is.

It was a truly reprehensible performance and a stain on the noble art of officialdom.

Time after time, he was caught out of position, unsighted and guessing at what he was blowing his whistle for. A stonewall missed penalty, a failure to give a foul on Ross Stewart for the second goal and a litany of poor decisions were made by a man that the children of Sunderland will dress up as on Halloween.

O’Nien sees red

Silly boy, Luke, and one decision Stroud did get right was his dismissal.

A rash challenge which was over the top and probably closer to the south east corner than the ball. Yes, O’Nien needs to have this in his armoury, because he’s a wind-up merchant and a master of s**thousery, but it must be channelled in the right way.

If a Sunderland player had been tackled like that there would have been uproar.

As such, our talismanic lovely boy will be missing for the Middlesbrough game, and he’ll be a big miss. Tough lessons, my friend, from which you’ll have to learn.

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

Michael Dunne says...

A strong start

I thought we started so well yesterday.

We played with real zest and we took the game to Swansea. Patrick Roberts and Amad were playing well and linking up with each other, along with Ross Stewart.

Unfortunately, everything changed when Luke O’Nien was sent off.

The Stadium of Light atmosphere

I don’t know whether it was because of the adversity, but the atmosphere in the stadium was one of the best I’ve heard all season.

Even when we fell behind, they kept backing the team, and this will be imperative going into next week’s ‘derby’ against Middlesbrough.

Luke O’Nien’s red card

That was a red card.

O‘Nien had his studs showing and it was extremely high. There was simply no need for him to go in like that. If you do, you’re giving the referee a decision to make.

It ruined the game for us.

Tony Mowbray’s substitutions

It felt strange that Mowbray took so long to make changes.

Our midfield looked increasingly exhausted, and although it’s understandable that he’d be hesitant to throw the kids into the game, I felt we were chasing shadows even at 1-1.

Personally, I would’ve had Edouard Michut on earlier and even Abdoullah Ba, but I felt our subs were reactive instead of proactive.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Toby Phipps says...

Dan Neil’s performance

Neil’s improvement over the past month or two has been fantastic and he continued that yesterday.

Defensively, his game has come on in leaps and bounds and he’s been influencing attacks as well.

His goal capped off a strong performance against Swansea.

A bright start

Before Luke O’Nien’s red card, we were very much in the ascendency and looking more likely to take the lead.

The link-up play down the right hand side between Amad, Patrick Roberts and Trai Hume was causing real problems for the Swansea defence.

It was a real shame that Roberts had to be sacrificed after O’Nien was dismissed.

Sloppiness at the back

All three goals could probably have been avoided from a defensive point of view.

Whether this was Lynden Gooch falling asleep for the first goal, the mix-up between goalkeeper and defence for the second, and a failure to close down Cooper effectively for the third.

Keith Stroud

A truly shocking performance from the man in the middle.

Stroud made contentious decisions all afternoon, and he was probably the worst referee we’ve had this season- an award that has plenty of stiff competition.


Anthony Gair says...

No need to worry!

The way we started the game- before some moronic refereeing destroyed it for us- was exciting to see.

Some of the football we produce is quite easily the best I’ve ever seen from the Lads.

We’ve got no need to panic about this performance, because it became a dead rubber immediately after the red card. Onwards and upwards!

Dan Neil shines

I knew he had the potential to be a good footballer, but I expected it to take longer for him to start taking the game by the scruff of its neck.

The lad is coming on leaps and bounds. He scored yesterday and he’s continuing to look like a mature head on young shoulders.

We’ll be lucky to hold on to him during this transfer window.

An abysmal refereeing performance

This was probably the worst refereeing performance I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen David Elleray referee a Manchester Utd game!

A performance so bad that it should certainly be looked at by the authorities, because if I performed that badly at work, I’d be disciplined, and he should be too!

Poor game management

There didn’t seem to be a plan for having someone sent off. It was more of the same but with one less player.

You can’t really blame anyone too much- it was a poor situation and one I hope we’re not in again.

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

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