Rowell Report: Sunderland’s home record is a huge embarrassment - it must improve with visit of Nottingham Forest

Sunderland manager Simon Grayson.
Sunderland manager Simon Grayson.

Simon Grayson tried a new system with three centre backs against Sheffield United on Saturday, he picked two of the new signings in his starting XI with another coming off the bench, but it was still the same old story with the third consecutive defeat – two of them at home.

Nobody has a worse home record than Sunderland in all four divisions, it is a huge source of embarrassment and it has been the same for years now.

Yes, there has been the odd home win here and there, but they are very much the exception as going to watch Sunderland at the Stadium of Light is no longer something to look forward to and enjoy, as it is always ending in frustration and disappointment.

The fans are being asked to be patient, but there is only so long anybody’s patience can last before they reach breaking point.

Yet again, Sunderland had one of the biggest attendances in the Championship, almost identical to Aston Villa’s – a huge and well supported historic club – but by our standards the crowd at the weekend was worryingly low and more performances like Saturday’s against the Blades won’t entice anybody back.

The latest defeat to Sheffield United fell into the same predictable pattern, with Sunderland probably shading the early stages without ever looking like scoring, then going a goal behind which triggered Sunderland’s fragile confidence and morale and from there we never looked like getting back on level terms as head’s go down.

The only surprise was that we scored at the end, a totally pointless and irrelevant goal when Sheffield United switched off.

I don’t want to be totally negative – although it is hard not to be – but Jonny Williams looked bright and at least tried to make something happen and Callum McManaman looked lively when he came on but that, I’m afraid, was about it.

I am well aware that it can sometimes just take one win to try and turn things around and I will go to tonight’s game against Nottingham Forest hoping that this is the game that it happens but the players have to show far more character and fighting spirit, especially if the game doesn’t go as planned early on.

Saying that, it would solve a lot of problems if we could actually score first and take the lead if Sunderland are to get that long-awaited first home win since Christmas.

That would take all the pressure off and bring some much-needed belief both on and off the pitch.

H After tonight’s game against Forest is over, Sunderland are on the road again with two away games in the league and cup against Hull and Everton.

The last time Sunderland had two consecutive league and cup away days was against Carlisle followed by a trip to Barnsley.

Sunderland’s travelling fans were certainly busy that week with 2,000 making the trip to Brunton Park, then an astonishing 4,500 following the lads to Barnsley.

Results were mixed as the fans’ loyalty was rewarded with progress in the Carabao Cup, but they were badly let down with a defeat at Barnsley that is best forgotten.

Sunderland’s away support and the huge number we take is truly inspirational and second to none.

It has been said many times before that it does make you wonder what it would be like if we ever became good or even remotely successful.