WHAT struck me most in the game against Wolves was that we looked like a team that has run out of steam.
There was a glaring lack of energy and ideas from Sunderland and Wolves – the Premier League’s worst side – looked the better team in a game we had all come to the Stadium of Light expecting the home team to win.
What I thought we lacked more than anything, was a Lee Cattermole to drive the team onwards.
There was a lack of leadership at the weekend and by that I don’t mean that players weren’t interested or weren’t trying. They were.
But it seemed as though everyone was pulling separately, playing their own game and it needed someone to knit them together and lift them.
That’s Cattermole’s role.
When he’s playing, he has a desire about him that is infectious.
He gees up the rest of the team.
When fatigue starts to set in, it can be mental as well as physical and Cattermole is the leader on the pitch who can guard against that.
I think Sunderland have three natural leaders – Cattermole and, because of all their experience and achievements, John O’Shea and Wes Brown – none of which were involved at the weekend.
O’Shea and Brown have an authority and desire about them which I think lifts their team-mates but Cattermole is the only one who is an ‘in your face’ leader, someone who rattles cages a little like Kevin Ball used to do.
Sunderland missed that – a player drawing players together – and hopefully the skipper will be back for the trip to Villa this weekend or, in his absence, a player or players who can take up that responsibility because it was very apparent to me at the weekend that we were lacking someone to shake us up and get us going.
READ the full column in Tuesday’s Echo