Rowell Report: Sunderland still lacking in creativity

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist

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PAOLO DI CANIO’s Sunderland revolution certainly didn’t get off to the flying start we all wanted.

Instead we got a disappointing one-goal defeat with all the old problems there for all to see – the main one being a lack of creativity.

Maybe I was expecting too much from a new team that obviously needs time, but I did not see us losing before the game and even a draw would have at least given us our first point and something to build on.

The defeat left the fans shattered and frustrated, but the manner of it made it even worse.

Fulham did a job on us, no doubt about it, and they did it very well. With Brede Hangeland outstanding at the back, I thought they were very well organised defensively and scored with their one chance from a corner, leaving us feeling mugged at our own party.

I have heard criticism of Fulham’s tactics, but I don’t buy that. Teams are allowed to defend well and more sides than Fulham will come to the Stadium of Light with the intention of frustrating us.

It is a problem we need to resolve.

However, it was not all doom and gloom. Sunderland enjoyed the greater share of possession and at times, were running the game quite nicely. Too often though, they broke down in the final third.

We also had plenty of shots from outside the area, but how many actually hit the target? Not many.

It was inside the box that concerned me the most.

Over the 90 minutes – apart from Ji Dong-won’s header at the death – we did not really carve out an opening or clear-cut chance and we must improve on that.

At half-time, I was feeling fairly satisfied as we were the better team and Keiren Westwood had been a spectacular, but we never really kicked on in the second half.

If Sunderland could have got the first goal, I believe they would have won comfortably, but we did not and Pajtim Kasami’s header was a blow that we never really recovered from.

When you consider our next two games are away from home and then a string of home games against the very top teams, plus a derby in there, then the Fulham match was of huge importance, yet we let it slip away.

Di Canio will know that much work is still to be done and Sunderland need to be active in the market between now and the transfer deadline.