Wise Men Say: Failure to hold lead until half-time so costly for Sunderland

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After back to back wins and in a game where anything was going to be a bonus, Sunderland brought us back down to earth with a bump.

Don’t get me wrong, Tottenham were excellent going forward and totally deserved the three points on Saturday.

But to take the lead so late in the first half and not get in at half-time 1-0 up was criminal.

If we could have kicked off the second half leading the game then the Spurs crowd would have grown restless, especially if we could have kept up our decent off-the-ball work that kept Tottenham at bay for the majority of the first half.

Our main positive of the afternoon was, of course, Jordan Pickford, who, despite conceding four goals, couldn’t have really done anything about any of them.

Before taking the lead, we had him to thank for keeping the game level due to the England Under-21 international pulling off a string of fine saves. When Harry Kane fired a curler low to Pickford’s left, he showed great agility to get down to his left to tip it wide.

On this showing, I certainly wouldn’t be dropping him for the visit of Bournemouth this Saturday.

Patrick van Aanholt continued his redemption under Sam Allardyce with a nicely taken goal. The through ball from Adam Johnson was exquisite and van Aanholt showed the confidence of a player in form by electing to shoot rather than play the ball across.

The Dutchman continued to look like a decent outlet going forward, getting into a good position ahead of Kieran Trippier in the second half, only to find not a single green shirt in the Spurs box.

It was indicative of our afternoon as well, often getting into decent areas but a lack of options in the middle.

I don’t want to be too negative on this game, but the baffling substitutions can’t be ignored.

If Sam Allardyce took Lee Cattermole off purely for picking up a yellow card then I find that ludicrous. Over the past few seasons, Cattermole has shown the maturity required to play while on a booking.

I’m fairly confident he wouldn’t have been sent off had Allardyce showed some faith in him, plus, playing with Jack Rodwell does have the feeling of playing with 10 men anyway.

Then there was, of course, the decision to bring on Jan Kirchhoff for his debut and change to a 3-5-2 formation.

Kirchhoff didn’t look entirely comfortable being thrown into the game at this stage, especially into a rejigged system and, as we all saw, he had a debut to forget.

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt though – he hasn’t played much this season and is still to adapt to the league.

There’ no need to write him off just yet.

With the end of the game came the end of a ridiculously busy schedule; the climax of a run of games that his left the players surely feeling, for want of a better word, knackered.

Yann M’Vila had previously commented on how he’d felt the strain of such a quick run of games and I bet that sentiment has been echoed by most of the squad.

A week between the Spurs game and the visit of Bournemouth and then a weekend with no match should do the players the world of good.

This week’s home clash with Bournemouth is yet another six pointer. Let’s just hope we can keep up our good form against the sides around us.

* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes