Gary Rowell: Best hope for Sunderland is to find three worse teams than us

Patrick van Aanholt runs off to celebrate his 83rd-minute equaliser against West Brom. Picture by FRANK REID
Patrick van Aanholt runs off to celebrate his 83rd-minute equaliser against West Brom. Picture by FRANK REID
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Who knows how important Patrick van Aanholt’s goal against West Brom will prove to be at the end of the season?

But what is clear is that it was a game Sunderland could not afford to lose.

Even at this early stage of the season, the table is taking shape and our position at the bottom isn’t false

GARY ROWELL

A fourth consecutive home defeat would have destroyed any hope and belief among both players and fans, so I am happy to take any positives in a season that, so far, has provided so few.

Of course, I am well aware that a home point to a well-drilled but average Premier team should never be cause for celebration, but without van Aanholt’s goal it would have been so much worse, so for that I am thankful.

Even at this early stage of the season, the table is taking shape and our position at the bottom isn’t false - it’s without doubt where we deserve to be.

With another international break here, David Moyes has two weeks to take stock and come up with a system that gets the best out of the players, although given the rate he’s losing them to injury, he’s rapidly running out of options.

So much has gone wrong but Sunderland never help themselves – they must be the only Premier team that couldn’t name a striker on the bench on Saturday, when everyone could see the club need at least one, but preferably two, top strikers to be brought in during the summer.

If Jermain Defoe gets injured, or his radar is off, as it was on Saturday, there is no alternative to share the load or support our top scorer and that’s just astonishing.

Sunderland did put together their best move of the season in the fourth minute which started just outside our own box, went through midfield and ended with a gilt-edged chance for Defoe and what a goal that would have been if the chance was taken.

The whole game might have been different if that had gone in but, as shown the week before, it would have been no guarantee we’d have kept the lead if we’d gone in front.

Two points from seven matches is a dismal start but about par for Sunderland in recent years and even now, at the beginning of October it’s looking as though the best we can possibly hope for is somehow finding three teams to be above come May.