TONY GILLAN: Sunderland once again undone by their own inability to concentrate

Sunderland concede the first goal against Southampton.
Sunderland concede the first goal against Southampton.

When considering which aspect of the Southampton game is worthy of the description “Worst Thing About It,” there is a dispiritingly large surfeit of options.

You will have your own personal favourite, but I have to plump for everything beforehand indicating a Sunderland victory.

At the final whistle, it was hard to remember that I had actually been looking forward to it.

Sunderland’s previous two games had delivered good performances and clean sheets.

Southampton had lost six of their last seven league games and been walloped at home by Arsenal in the FA Cup.

They had the supposed distraction of this Sunday’s League Cup final and injuries compelled them to give only a third Premier League start to a centre-back, Jack Stephens.

Much good this did Sunderland. Granted there was an encouraging opening 20 minutes and the all-important first goal was punched into the net. But it will take rather more than that to exonerate the return to sloppiness, toothlessness and a startling inability to concentrate.

The music at half-time is still too loud, the club persists with starving the paying customer of information by not showing replays of opposition goals or naming the scorer (we want to know as much as the people watching for free on dodgy online feeds in pubs).

It was chucking it down, freezing and I forgot to take my flask. My feet hurt too (when I embark upon a moan I leave no stone unturned).

But it was the crushing of fragile and incipient optimism that was worst of all. Beneath the stand before the game I saw Keith (you know – Keith) and he smilingly predicted a 3-0 win.

With the 90 minutes up I consoled myself with the prospect of mocking him.

I was particularly looking forward to sarcastically mentioning that he had foretold the correct scoreline. A minute later the fourth one went in and I was denied even that feeble pleasure.

Oh well. It could have been worse. Swansea’s win on Sunday was the only victory for any of the strugglers. Sunderland were two points from safety on Saturday morning and that remains the case now.

If nothing else, the last three games have reinforced the point that anything can happen; always the last bastion of hope in football.

But we struggle to find levity. Deprived of any other fun at present, I suggest you all join me in ridiculing and bullying Keith when you next see him. It’s all his fault.

Blame Keith.