Six things we learned from Sunderland's home defeat to Middlesbrough

David Moyes suffered defeat in his first home game in charge of Sunderland as Middlesbrough triumphed 2-1 in the Wear-Tees derby.

Sunday, 21st August 2016, 2:24 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st August 2016, 3:29 pm
Steven Pienaar was pressed into action earlier than David Moyes would have liked.

Here are six things we picked out from Moyes' Stadium of Light bow:

1. New signings are needed - and fast

After a bright start, Sunderland faded in the first half, struggling at both ends of the pitch. John O'Shea's injury simply compounded matters, with Jack Rodwell forced into defence alongside new boy Papy Djilibodji. With Lamine Kone currently unavailable - for whatever reason you believe - and Younes Kaboul having already departed, Moyes desperately needs to strengthen his backline ahead of the transfer window's closure. Up-front, too, Jermain Defoe could do with some better support, while even in the centre of the park Sunderland now look limited, with Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff out.

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2. Patrick van Aanholt still has much to do

Patrick van Aanholt's defensive improvement over the last nine months has been marked, but he remains far from infallible. While it may appear harsh, the left-back was arguably the Sunderland player most at fault for both of Middlesbrough's goals in the first half, which gave the hosts a mountain to climb. He backed off Stuani for his opener, and while nobody inside the Stadium of Light would have expected him to rifle the ball into the top corner, van Aanholt - although also thinking about the man running on his outside - should have seen the danger. He then played Alvaro Negredo onside for the second goal, staying far too deep, allowing the Spaniard to tee up Stuani. As is often the case, van Aanholt looked dangerous going forward, and scored his side's goal here when he started and finished the move, but he still has much work to do defensively.

3. There is promise - especially going forward

This may not have been the polished performance Moyes would have been hoping for on his Stadium of Light bow, but there were some encouraging signs. Duncan Watmore and Lynden Gooch buzzed around, while Adnan Januzaj started well on his home debut and was always a threat to the visitors. An addition to support Defoe could prove crucial for Moyes, as there is certainly promise there.

4. Sunderland badly need the return of Kirchhoff and/or Cattermole

Jan Kirchhoff has played a vital role in this Sunderland side since breaking into the side following his January arrival, and it goes without saying that they miss his influence in the centre of the park. It's impossible to say whether Middlesbrough's goals would have been prevented with the German on the pitch, but it would certainly have reduced the chances. Lee Cattermole's presence, too, was also an obvious miss for Sunderland on a day another midfielder, Jack Rodwell, was forced back into defence. The sooner Kirchhoff and Cattermole are back, the better for Sunderland.

5. Steven Pienaar pressed into action earlier than Moyes may have liked

Understandably, Steven Pienaar is rusty. With just 17 appearances under his belt in the last two seasons, he has been starved of match action, and so it may take some time for Sunderland to see the best of the 34-year-old. However, the current problems Moyes has forced him into bringing Pienaar on during the first half of this encounter, which would surely have been too early for his liking. However, Pienaar will be valuable to Moyes in the weeks ahead. With such uncertainty surrounding the squad at present, having a player he knows and trusts around could be crucial for Moyes. He was impressive here.

6. Papy Djilibodji could be a very useful addition

In an ideal world, as with Pienaar, Djilibodji would not be so vital to Sunderland at such an early point of his time at the club. However, with Paddy McNair concentrating on duties in the centre of midfield, Djilibodji was the Black Cats' only recognised centre-back following the withdrawal of O'Shea. He largely played well, winning a good amount of aerial balls and showing some good quality in possession. He could be vital for Sunderland in the weeks ahead.