Gary Rowell: Inept Sunderland need to improve and get Victor Anichebe back

Victor Anichebe: Vital figure for Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID
Victor Anichebe: Vital figure for Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID
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Not for the first time this season, Sunderland let themselves down with an inept performance against Stoke which left the fans shaking their heads in despair.

I couldn’t believe what I was watching, especially the first half when we conceded three in 19 miserable minutes.

The sooner Victor Anichebe gets back from inury the better as without him we have no physical presence in attack

GARY ROWELL

Why do Sunderland collapse like that so often?

Going a goal down is a set-back but it’s not the end of the game.

But follow it with a second and then a third in double-quick time and there’s no way back from that.

The exact same thing happened against Everton earlier in the season and also against Arsenal, Swansea and Burnley.

All those matches saw the Black Cats collapse in a short space of time, something you rarely see from other Premier League teams.

This time last season, Sunderland were in just as precarious a position as they find themselves in now but Sam Allardyce pulled a rabbit out of the hat with three signings that kept us up and all the signs are David Moyes won’t be able to repeat that.

Allardyce also had better players in Younes Kaboul and Yann M’Vila, who are no longer at the club and, crucially, he did not have an injury list as long as your arm that has crippled Moyes’s squad.

The sooner Victor Anichebe gets back from inury the better as without him we have no physical presence in attack and are far too lightweight.

In midfield, we lack creativity and with the back four having a nightmare afternoon, it was no surprise there were no positives to take from the game, apart from Jermain Defoe’s goal.

Even before Stoke scored, Sunderland seemed to be struggling with the pressure of a winnible game with even the most basic 10-yard passes going astray.

Saturday’s performance was one that sapped all the hope from the red and white army. No one is relegated in January but serious improvements are needed if we are to escape relegation.