THIS was always coming. The incessant run of games and the effort that O’Neill demands of all his players meant that, at some point this season, we were going to get hammered.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be at the Hawthorns, a ground that hasn’t exactly been known for being a fortress this season.
We started very poorly, switching off within the first five minutes and giving them a foothold in the game. All of the players had poor games and it is harsh to single out anyone in particular, but Larsson appeared dead, and Thomas destroyed Bardsley on their left.
The only negative thing you could say about O’Neill so far is, in many other ways a positive, but the fact he played the same 11 as the one he played against Arsenal obviously had its drawbacks. Well, drawback.
The players were clearly completely fatigued and this was what lost us the game. Older readers may say that players used to have to play a lot more games a season but the pace of the game is rapid and you can’t play your full team for every single league game this season.
Of course you should play it as much as possible, but look where playing the reserves got Bruce in the cup.
But expecting to play the same 11 every week and expecting a good performance each time is impossible.
I fully expect to see a different performance on Sunday, though!
To read more of the Echo Jury, please see tonight’s Sunderland Echo.