Cat's Eye View: Gritty display proves well-drilled Sunderland are responding to Chris Coleman's methods
Chris Coleman had a simple message to his players ahead of the trip to Wolves; a lack of effort won't be tolerated on his watch.
And his squad must have been listening intently as the performance was full of character, resilience, determination and spirit.
Missing several players through injury and suspension, a patched-up side, which included youngsters George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch and Donald Love, fully deserved the hard-earned point.
Heading into the game Wolves were the in-form side, the league’s highest scorers and boasting the second best defence. Well-drilled Sunderland may have rarely threatened John Ruddy but they proved more than a match defensively.
Granted, the bar has been set very low, for this was only the second clean sheet, but this was the best defensive performance of the campaign. Coleman has been working the defence hard and his methods are bearing fruit.
John O’Shea led the way, Tyias Browning excelled after a nervy start with Marc Wilson producing his best performance.
They were shielded brilliantly by Darron Gibson, with Love and Adam Matthews putting in plenty of leg work in the wing-back roles.
Lee Cattermole’s sending off could have proved the catalyst for a Wolves win but if anything it seemed to galvanise Sunderland. Wave after wave of attack repelled.
Wolves had 72 per cent possession, 23 attempts at goal compared to Sunderland’s one, though incredibly only four of those were on target. Sunderland’s players threw their bodies in the way of several attempts. Coleman’s gameplan to frustrate executed brilliantly. The former Wales boss deserves praise but the players do to.
Ahead of the game, Coleman said: “You’d be amazed how far you can get with an honest group of players, amazed – I’ve seen it myself.”
Well organised. Well drilled. This performance proved the Sunderland squad is up for the fight and capable of following and executing a gameplan.
It was an encouraging step ahead of a huge home double header. Ending that miserable home record is the next challenge.