Gary Rowell Report: Grounds for concern

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THERE are a couple of grounds that are just graveyards for Sunderland – Everton’s Goodison Park is one of them; City’s Eastlands Stadium is the other.

You expect a tough time at Old Trafford, at the Emirates, at Stamford Bridge, at Anfield where top teams are constantly manoeuvring for Champions League positions. Even so, we’ve had varying degrees of success at those places.

But at Everton and Manchester City over the years, no matter how patchy those teams’ form has been going into the game, they always seem to have the Indian sign over Sunderland.

It was for that reason that I feared the worst on Sunday – half-a-dozen games at City in the Premier League; half-a-dozen defeats for Sunderland – and it didn’t take long for my worst fears to be confirmed.

I think it was that, that was my biggest disappointment – not so much that we didn’t take anything from the game, because most neutrals would have tipped a home win before kick-off – but that we were never in it and, worse, the game was effectively over inside the first quarter-of-an-hour.

It’s not the first time that Sunderland fans have travelled to Eastlands only to feel that they had made a wasted journey before the game had barely begun.

But you had to feel for those who stayed to endure 90 minutes of a game in which at no stage, Sunderland looked like getting anything out of.

That was what was really annoying.

You live with it, if your team goes away from home, gets beaten but gives a spirited display.

But Sunderland looked all at sea, second-best everywhere and at no point in the game did they enjoy a spell where they posed a genuine threat or looked in any way solid.

City just had too much power for them, something summed up by Yaya Toure who is a monster of a man in central midfield but also has tremendous pace and touch to go with it. There’s no getting away from the fact that Man City are the richest club in the world with tremendous resources in their squad.

But Sunderland should have been better than they were and for me this was a performance every bit as bad as the one against Newcastle United at St James’s Park back in October.

To read the rest of the Rowell Report, please see tonight’s Sunderland Echo.