Wise Men Say: There’s still no need to panic, but Baggies game is a must-win

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It’s difficult to know what to feel after Sunday’s result. It doesn’t feel like a defeat in spite of the fact we conceded late on.

May be it’s because in a derby, sometimes you’re just happy to get out with something and that sense of relief takes over.

It was a routine performance from an ever-improving Sunderland side. It’s just such a shame we can’t get that clean sheet.

It’s becoming a monkey on the back and you can see the psychological damage.

This won’t be the first Sunderland side to retreat and attempt to protect narrow leads. It’s happened under previous managers and practically all of them are as frustrated about it as the supporters.

We should be coming away from Southampton and Newcastle with four more points than we have.

That would see us two points clear of Norwich and six clear of Newcastle. It would be a long way back for the latter.

I’ve watched a lot of our relegation rivals in recent weeks. Norwich have somehow scraped four points from their last six when they’ve looked quite poor. Newcastle look no better than they did under Steve McClaren either, in my view.

Sunderland are by far the most balanced side of the three. We look a threat going forward and create a lot of chances.

One day they’ll all go in and then may be we won’t have to sit back and defend a slender lead. Hopefully, it’ll happen at Carrow Road. That would be handy.

It just feels like there’s not a lot wrong with this Sunderland side at the moment. We have some good players. We play some tidy stuff. I quite enjoy watching them, but we find ourselves in the relegation zone.

If we do go down, some will say it’s the Palace, Southampton and Newcastle games that have done for us. I see their point, but I wouldn’t necessarily agree.

Yet again, our woeful start to the campaign saw us playing catch up and it could come back to bite us.

After our excellent January window, it does make you wonder what Sam Allardyce could have done had he had the whole season in charge.

It’s also frustrating that should we go down those players will probably depart and we’ll have to start all over again, just as things seemed to be improving. However, I feel quite relaxed at the moment.

We’ve got the derby out the way and survival is still in our hands. I believe this team is capable of winning football matches and now we have two weeks to rest and regroup before another one of those must-win encounters with West Brom.

Win that one and I don’t think there’s a negative result from the Norwich v Newcastle game. The next three games are pivotal.

Let’s hope Sam runs a few more of those defensive drills in the next fortnight, preferably higher up the field of play.