This was peak Sunderland.
A week after their biggest win of the season, Sunderland were brought straight back down to earth with an insipid and characterless performance, which pushed the players even closer to the relegation zone.
After the game, Sunderland’s perplexed and astonished manager, Dick Advocaat, stated that the players had to “look at themselves in the mirror” after failing to show the stomach for the fight.
In many ways, this was not a 4-1 game. Crystal Palace showed pace but very little else of note to suggest that they were “playing like Brazil,” as their manager, Alan Pardew, suggested.
Rather, they were fortunate to come up against a Sunderland defence that was a mix of has-beens and players who were simply not good enough or did not want to be there.
It was a dark day for Sunderland defender John O’Shea, who was completely outmuscled, outpaced, and outfought by Palace winger Yannick Bolasie. Bolasie scored one of the easiest hat-tricks you will ever witness.
In many ways, O’Shea’s decline epitomized Sunderland as a team. They were in desperate need of a revamp on and off the pitch, yet the same players endlessly continued to play because newer signings were regularly not up to the mark on a consistent basis.
The match itself was a poor affair. After an enormous win the previous week, much was expected from the home side. The first half was conspicuous for the lack of chances created by either side.
However, in a fifteen-minute spell at the start of the second half, the game was completely over as a contest. Glenn Murray, a striker who was in a rich vein of form, naturally nabbed a goal against Sunderland after a cross from Bolasie deflected right in front of him, allowing him to head in from point-blank range.
After this, Bolasie bagged himself three goals in ten minutes, with a little help from the Sunderland defence, with our aforementioned Irishman culpable for at least two of the goals.
Bolasie, who had only scored one goal in his previous 27 league matches this season, got to Murray’s flick-on first to make it 2-0. The third goal was a poor one to concede, although Bolasie showed great technique to lift the ball over advancing Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.
To finish it off, Sunderland fell further behind as Murray again linked up with Bolasie, and he scored at the second attempt after initially being denied by Pantilimon.
To be fair to the Sunderland defence, they offered zero protection to our backline as the Crystal Palace midfield waltzed through them like it was something from Strictly.
In added time, Connor Wickham scored from a pullback by Patrick Van Aanholt, which made the scoreline a little better.
Ultimately, it was another dark day at the Stadium of Light, and unfortunately, these types of days were becoming all too common. Dick Advocaat had an enormous job on his hands to keep the team up, and he was raging about this performance.
We have to recover in 14 days with an away game against Stoke and we have to do better as this was not good enough.
After the Newcastle game we did not see this performance coming. We had trained really well and the confidence had come back. We gave the match away in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
We could not cope with their pace, but I don’t want to complain about the players. We win as a team and lose as a team.
We still have six matches left and it’s in our hands. You cannot lose 4-1 to Crystal Palace in a home game because we need to get results.
Surely another great escape wasn’t on the cards.
Sunderland: Pantilimon; Jones, Vergini, O’Shea, Van Aanholt; Rodwell, Cattermole, Gomez; Defoe, Fletcher, Wickham.
Subs: Johnson, Bridcutt.
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; McArthur, Jedinak; Zaha, Puncheon, Bolasie; Murray.
Subs: Kelly, Sanogo, Ledley