Gary Rowell: Losing culture so deep-set that Sunderland can't even cope with poor quality Championship
After the start to the season Sunderland have had, I don't think there will be too many fans unhappy with another two-week break despite an improved display at Preston.
After several years of relegation battles when Sunderland did eventually drop through the trapdoor, the silver lining was supposed to be at least watching a winning team – even if it is in an inferior division.
Unfortunately, the losing culture and mentality must be so deep-set in the club that Sunderland find themselves unbelievably second bottom.
But this time instead of losing to some of the best clubs in England and Europe, now it is Barnsley, Ipswich Town, Sheffield United and others who are turning us over.
Simon Grayson said after the Ipswich defeat that Sunderland have been far too easy to play against and he won’t get an argument on that score from most fans.
There is so much that has gone wrong it is difficult to know where to start, but one reason has to be a lack of power and energy in the team as too often this season I have seen opponents looking stronger and covering more ground, while Sunderland run out of steam.
There is a lack of real quality in Championship teams, but they make up for it with organisation, workrate and desire and any team who can’t match that will be brushed aside as Sunderland have found out, though, it was noticeably better at Preston and that must be the level now.
When everybody is available, the Sunderland boss says he knows his best starting eleven so lets hope he gets it on the pitch soon as we need the stability and the continuity that a settled team brings, although injuries certainly haven’t helped.
The goalkeeping situation needs attention too, neither Steele or Ruiter have convinced so far, although playing behind Sunderland’s nervy and shaky defence would unsettle any keeper, but chopping and changing the No.1 position doesn’t help, so a decision needs to be made and stuck with.
I don’t know any club that sells both keepers in the summer.
Jordan Pickford I accept had to leave, especially for such a big fee, but Vito Mannone would have been a more than able keeper in the Championship and would have helped with continuity, meaning the club wouldn’t have had to sign two completely new keepers who would need to settle into new surroundings.
The Championship is relentless but, thanks to the play-off system, even being in mid-table means you are never far away, but sadly for Sunderland fans, even mid-table looks a long way off.