Sunderland shortcomings exposed in Everton debacle '“ but put into perspective by Bradley's fight
It's not often that you can come away with any positives after a 3-0 defeat, but while the result at home to Everton stung, it didn't seem as important.
Putting the football aside, what an amazing sight to see young Bradley Lowery receiving such an ovation from both sets of fans during the clash.
The five-year-old has neuroblastoma and his family are trying to raise £700,000 for specialist treatment in the United States.
The young Sunderland fan led out the teams alongside Jermain Defoe last night and supporters chanted ‘There’s Only One Bradley Lowery’ during the match.
Everton were among those to be touched by the story of this remarkably brave young man, and have pledged to donate £200,000 to his cancer treatment fund.
The Toffees have also invited the Lowerys to the return fixture and will auction off signed shirts from the game – a superb gesture by the Merseysiders in these days of the money-mad modern game.
As the dad of a week-old-daughter (our first child) I can’t imagine what young Bradley and his family are going through.
Let’s hope he gets the treatment he needs and it’s a success – good luck Bradley.
It’s moments like these that put football into perspective for us all, and in the grand scheme of life a defeat to Everton is hardly that important.
However, this is a sports column, and as such, we can’t ignore last night’s debacle.
Personally, I didn’t think Sunderland did too bad in the first 45 minutes, and largely held their own, showing attacking intent.
Sadly, it was followed by a second-half capitulation of epic proportions.
The finger will be pointed at the defence and rightly so, they were absent without leave for all three goals.
Papy Djilobodji was missing in action, Patrick van Aanholt’s inability to read the offside line, and his tendency to expect others to do his defending for him, reared its ugly head at times.
Manager David Moyes said afterwards that his back four had made some basic errors and that defensive lapses had cost his side.
Impossible to argue with any of that, but sadly for Sunderland the shortcomings don’t stop there.
Moyes’ side attacked with intent at times during the first half, but it was not accompanied by any genuine quality in the final third.
Lynden Gooch, Duncan Watmore and Adnan Januzaj showed brief glimpses going forward, but far too often they ran down blind alleys or into a dead end.
Defoe seems our only real goal threat, but he was feeding on scraps against the Toffees, and we can’t keep expecting him to pull us out of the mire all on his own.
Jan Kirchoff’s return was a positive, but he looked off the pace at times, which is to be expected. The German was substituted before the final whistle and you have to hope this is a case of him being eased back in rather than him being nursed through games like a lot of last season.
After last night’s result for some reason I decided to take another look at our first team squad.
Of course, the glimpse confirmed what we all already know – it’s paper thin.
And I’m genuinely not sure if it’s that much of an improvement on last season’s.
I hope I’m wrong and it’s still early days, but I hope we’re not looking for another ‘Great Escape’.