Wise Men Say: Opening defeat, but plenty for Sunderland fans to feel positive about

Defeats like that are weird.

Monday, 15th August 2016, 3:00 pm

You’ve played well so you don’t have the familiar anger or sheer dejection that you would usually associate with a Sunderland loss.

Despite us losing the game in a very Sunderland way, there’s still a lot to feel positive about. Looking at our midfield before the game, I feared the worst against a Man City side filled with talent. Not to mention that they now boast arguably the world’s best manager.

But David Moyes had his side so well-drilled and organised that a lack of a midfield didn’t seem to matter against the team that many have tipped for the title. If that’s how he can get us playing without one, I can’t wait to see how we look with Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff and, hopefully, Yann M’Vila back in the side.

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In defence. Moyes had the Lads looking just as strong as they did at the back end of last season. Younes Kaboul made sure Sergio Aguero wasn’t going to add to his early penalty, while Lamine Kone put in the type of display that was vital if he’s to repair his relationship between the club and its supporters.

For whatever potential weaknesses there may be in our side, Kone and Kaboul showed that central defence won’t be one of them if their partnership is allowed to continue.

Had Billy Jones not been injured, Donald Love wouldn’t have started the game. but the right-back did well after being left exposed in the early stages.

Coming on as a substitute, Adnan Januzaj added a much-needed dose of quality in the final third and has probably earned himself a start for this Sunday’s visit of Middlesbrough.

His dynamism lead to Jermain Defoe’s equaliser and hopefully we’ll see even more of that against weaker sides.

Another highlight was seeing Lynden Gooch make his Premier League debut and hold his own, not looking out of place at all.

It says a lot of how highly the manager must rate the youngster, keeping out seasoned players such as Jeremain Lens and Wahbi Khazri, so I’d like to think that this could be the start of us seeing a lot more young players breaking into the first-team squad.

A lot of games will, of course, be different propositions to Manchester City and I’m looking forward to seeing how Moyes sets us up when we need to play on front foot.

We’ll obviously need more control in midfield as, for all his efforts, John O’Shea looked uncomfortable, while Jack Rodwell struggled to put his stamp on the game. A tidy assist will hopefully give Rodwell something to build on, but, if he’s to retain his place, he must start impacting the game more.

Moyes’s former protege needs to be more aggressive and just as quick with his passingin the middle of the pitch, as he was when he threaded the ball through to Defoe.

I don’t want to get bogged down in any negatives though. This was a really encouraging performance from Sunderland and one that gives us a lot to build on.

It says a lot that, given the result and the players available to both sides, it should be City supporters who have more questions and concerns about how their side performed.

On this display, Sunderland fans can be confident that, with some players back to full fitness and two or three new signings, it will be a season to enjoy.

* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes