Six things we learned from Chris Coleman's first game in charge of Sunderland

Chris Coleman's reign didn't get off to the best start - but he'll have learnt plenty after his Sunderland side fell to defeat at Aston Villa.

Wednesday, 22nd November 2017, 8:25 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:00 am
Aiden McGeady in action against Villa.

Goals either side of the break from Albert Adomah and Josh Onomah sealed victory for the hosts, with Lewis Grabban's late strike merely a consolation.

Yet despite the result, the Welshman will feel there are plenty of positives he can build on; even if there are some negatives that need addressing too.

Chris Coleman at Villa Park.

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Here's six things we learnt from the Welshman's first game in charge:

It's the small margins:

A momentary lapse in concentration and a deflection. That's what cost Sunderland.

Yet again it seems to be the fine margins costing the Black Cats points, and Coleman needs to rid them from Wearsiders' game.

Lewis Grabban holds off a challenge.

For the first goal, Adam Matthews switched off for only a second and was punished - Villa stealing the ball and attacking with menace before Adomah tapped home.

Tyias Browning was then the unlucky party for the second as his attempted block saw Onomah's effort loop past Robbin Ruiter. A second later and it could well have been a heroic intervention.

These margins are robbing Sunderland of points and these small errors need to eradicated - quickly.

Sunderland need to be patient:

Chris Coleman at Villa Park.

Villa were more than happy to sit back and let Sunderland have possession at times - but the Black Cats looked very unsure of what to do with the ball.

There were some positive spells of play around the area, but then passes were often rushed or misplaced meaning that promising opportunities went begging. That can't be allowed to happen.

Coleman needs to preach patience to his new squad Sunderland have to learn to be patient in possession, retain the ball and then look for the killer blow.

It was crystal clear that this was an area that needs addressing and improvements will likely come on the training ground once Coleman has had more time to work with the team.

Lewis Grabban holds off a challenge.

The kids are alright:

With Coleman's transfer kitty set to be limited in January, he may well have to turn to some of Sunderland's more youthful players as the season progresses.

And a handful of those young guns staked their place for a regular starting berth with some impressive performances in the Midlands.

Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman were both handed starts and, the latter especially, impressed in the centre of the park and offered some support to lone striker Grabban.

Meanwhile Joel Asoro and Ethan Robson made appearances off the bench and looked lively going forward.

Coleman has opted for youth before during his time in charge of Wales, and the performances of the Black Cats' young quartet will have assured him that he can do the same at the Stadium of Light if required.

Coleman has the ingredients:

It's often been said that Sunderland's squad is indeed talented enough to stay up and, despite the result, this game enforced that view.

Even with a vastly depleted line-up, Sunderland's players showed their new manager glimpses of their true ability and suggested that the talent is in place to climb up the table.

In Grabban the Black Cats have a goalscorer in fine form and if Aiden McGeady and Callum McManaman can start providing more chances then goals won't be an issue.

The back four looked fairly assured - minus Matthews' error - and James Vaughan's cameo showed that there are even options on the bench.

So it seems as if all the ingredients are there. Now Coleman just needs to find his recipe for success.

The heart is there:

Coleman said upon his appointment that he needed to see some heart in his side, and he'll certainly feel encouraged that his players have plenty of that after their display at Villa Park.

After conceding early, it could have been easy for Sunderland to crumble against an impressive Villa side - and one who had lost only one home league game all season.

And while the Wearsiders did concede again, they didn't let their heads drop and deservedly pulled a goal back.

They remained resolute, tenacious in the tackle and showed plenty of Coleman's desired heart. These are all characteristics that the Black Cats will undoubtedly need as they look to move clear of relegation danger.

It might need to get ugly

It was something Coleman himself alluded to in his press conference: that by hook or by crook, Sunderland need to drag themselves away from trouble.

While the Welshman is keen to play attractive football when possible things might need to get a little scrappier for the Black Cats as they aim to climb off bottom.

Against Villa, some of Sunderland's better openings came from long balls into the channels - not free-flowing football by any means, but if it's an effective avenue then Sunderland need to pursue it.

At this stage of the season they can't be fussy. Wins are required, however they come about.