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Sunderland v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship

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Looking at the negatives and additional negatives from Sunderland’s defeat to Huddersfield

The Lads slumped to a dismal 1-2 home loss to the Terriers on Wednesday evening. We asked our writers for their thoughts on a poor night all round

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Jon Guy says…

Another toothless display

We can talk about chances all we like, but we simply look incapable of scoring.

Jobe was clean through and if it had been an out-and-out striker, it would’ve been 2-1 to us and a completely different game.

We need to buy an experienced striker in January, because the decision to sell Ross Stewart looks more misguided every time we take to the pitch.

No plan B

We don’t look like we can adapt to what’s in front of us.

Jack Clarke is being crowded out and we didn’t look like we could bring the likes of Patrick Roberts into the game.

It’s down to the coaching staff and we need to address it.

Another lethargic start

We started so slowly on Wednesday night.

We don’t seem to take our home games by the scruff of the neck and put teams under pressure from the outset.

It would take the crowd with them and crank up the atmosphere.

Ridiculous replacements

Changing four players at once and at a time when we were pressing for an equaliser was odd.

Against a team that were putting eleven men behind the ball, we needed to create space yet we just packed the final third of the field so shots were being blocked and there was no space in which to pass or shoot.


Sunderland v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Jonny Hawley says…

Slow, slower, slowest

Where was the energy?

Fair enough, it was a freezing midweek game in pouring rain, but the total lack of movement in possession was appalling.

More than once, Luke O’Nien could only stroll with the ball at his feet as the throng of attacking players all stood motionless beyond him. No wonder we struggled to break them down!

Regardless of anything else, you have to earn the right to dominate a game, and we did the complete opposite.

A lottery of substitutions

There was a total lack of imagination from Tony Mowbray, which is becoming a habit of late.

He showed zero lateral thinking in simply chucking attacking players on in batches as we chased a goal, rather than attempting to change something in our shape.

None of the changes helped us become any more threatening, and if anything they stifled the players as they were adapting to new teammates coming on every ten minutes.

We need to see more from Mowbray when it comes to changing things up, or this will repeat itself throughout the season.

Chances wasted

The chance that sums this up came from O’Nien’s slide rule ball in the second half which completely split the Huddersfield midfield and defence.

Such a pass deserved a goal, but all Jobe could manage to do was tamely shoot across the goalkeeper, leading to an easy save and wasting a gilt-edged chance.

This was the story of the game for us, as anything resembling a chance (bar one that O’Nien couldn’t miss on the line) went begging.

We’re getting used to peppering the goal in terms of shots for very little reward, which we could do with learning how to avoid as soon as possible.

Sunderland out of balance

I wrote about the lack of balance a few weeks ago, and since then very little has changed, as particularly in the absence of Dennis Cirkin, we look totally lopsided and lacking any real width.

Jack Clarke is marooned on the left wing, Patrick Roberts has nobody within twenty yards of him, and Trai Hume and whoever plays left back spend most of the ninety minutes somewhere around the centre circle.

That gives us nothing to stretch the opposition defence, as we saw last night, and it leaves us looking more than a little frustrated in possession as there are no gaps to attack.

We can’t rely on individual brilliance to carry us every week!

Tom Albrighton says…

Tactical ineptitude

It was quite incredible to see that after being dismantled by a low block, a 5-4-1 and quick breaks, Tony Mowbray fell into the same trap twice in succession.

Tactically, Sunderland are in the mud right now- unbalanced, slow and congested, and it feels like Mowbray is drawing his tactical nuance from a packet of Sudafed.

Relying on go-to players

Yet again, the now-usual suspects were at it and although Luke O’Nien popped up with a goal, he balanced this with being largely at fault for Huddersfield’s winner.

As for Patrick Roberts, the less said the better. Two players in poor form, yet two players who are seemingly undroppable.

Confusing substitutions

With more subs than Kerry Katona’s ‘OnlyFans’, you’d think we would’ve been able to muster something of a renaissance when going behind for the second time at home to Huddersfield, but you’d be wrong.

Yet again, Mowbray’s substitutions muddied the already bog-like waters of the ‘tactics’ we have, and surrendered any hope or inkling of control.

Bringing on Bradley Dack whenever we’re chasing a game is starting to feel less like hopeless optimism and more like a direct insult.

Is it the strikers?

At first glance, we could all say yes but I’m not sure.

We’ve now tried four very different players in the same role and all to no avail. To me, that suggests something else is going wrong, namely a lack of any genuine chances being created.

At the moment, it all feels a bit like ‘quality over quantity’, unless I’m very wrong and it transpires that we’ve signed four absolute duds who all happen to be strikers - something I very much doubt.

Yet again, loads of chances, but not many that were any good, leading to yet another game where our strikers draw a blank.

Sunderland v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Kingsley Reavley says...


Struggling to find positives after such a frustrating night but I thought Luke O’Nien was impressive from an offensive standpoint (less so defensively!).

His somewhat non-captain-like behaviour in the Plymouth game rubbed a few fans up the wrong way, but he led by example tonight and did what he could to get us going.

He also managed what our forwards seem incapable of doing and got on the end of a loose ball in the box to get the equaliser. His array of passing from the halfway line was crisp and incisive allowing us to get back on the front foot when under pressure.

With performances like that the calls for him to be pushed up into midfield and Seelt slotting into defence will grow.

Slow out the traps & ponderous

Not for the first time this season we started a game like it was a testimonial, lacking intensity, urgency and cohesion. Granted it’s a cold midweek game but I’ve never heard the SOL so quiet which is completely understandable based on the dross being served up. It begs the question of what Mowbray is saying to the lads prior to kick off, because they simply didn’t look up for it.

If there’s an element of complacency within the ranks then it needs to be rooted out. The Championship is an unforgiving league and back-to-back defeats can soon escalate into 3,4,5 on the spin if we don’t get a grip.

Strikers still drawing a blank

How much longer can we go without a striker scoring? the fact we’re heading to the halfway mark of the season and not one of them notched a single goal is remarkable and has to ring alarm bells.

Mayenda looked lively again albeit a little raw, Hemir seems to have all the right attributes but lacks composure and Burstow only getting a few minutes at the means he’s likely heading back to Chelsea early as they’ll want him getting constant game time.

The reality is Ross Stewart hasn’t been adequately replaced, it will be interesting to see how Speakman solves the striker conundrum in January.

Ineffective subs

The subs Mowbray made appeared fairly haphazard and random.

I get there reaches a point when getting beat off a lowly Huddersfield side where the kitchen sink has to go in but was it necessary to have Pritchard, Dack and Aouchiche on the pitch at the same time? All three have very similar attributes and no one seemed to know where they were playing.

The game was crying out for someone with dynamism to come on and take it to the Huddersfield backline. Once again Bradley Dack came on for the last 20 minutes, strolled about, knocked a few simple passes sideways and sadly that was about it. Other than being Mowbray’s friend he’s yet to really justify why he was signed when there are better options in that position.

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