Analysis: Some positives but Aston Villa defeat shows magnitude of Sunderland challenge facing ex-Wales boss Chris Coleman

Robbin Ruiter makes a save in last night's 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa. Picture by Frank Reid
Robbin Ruiter makes a save in last night's 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa. Picture by Frank Reid
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Welcome to Sunderland.

Within 48 hours of taking charge on Wearside, Chris Coleman was facing a selection crisis and key player Duncan Watmore is facing another lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Coleman has only just arrived, but the feeling of one blow to the stomach after another remains.

That challenge facing Sunderland grows greater with every passing game.

The Black Cats remain bottom of the Championship, four points from safety and, following last night’s 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa, they now haven’t won in 16 league games.

Turning round a sinking ship will take time and the Villa Park was always going to be a difficult one given Sunderland were without 10 first team players.

Ultimately it was another defeat, another game that Sunderland failed to keep a clean sheet.

Sunderland could count themselves unlucky with both goals. A free-kick for a foul on Adam Matthews could have been awarded in the build-up to Albert Adomah’s opener, while Villa’s second, from Josh Onomah, took a wicked deflection.

Villa are now fourth yet they were far from their best and, worryingly, it still proved enough to beat Sunderland.

There were some positives to take. Lewis Grabban scored his 10th goal, Sunderland at least tried to play football rather than hoofing it long and there were some bright performances from those drafted into the side including George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch.

But it was another game that ended in defeat in a league that has little quality.

Yet Sunderland find themselves propping it up.

That says it all and Coleman has to quickly find a win, with third-bottom Burton Albion next up on Saturday.

A week ago to the day Coleman was overseeing his final game in charge of Wales, denied a win in stoppage time by Panama.

Fast forward seven days and he was in the Sunderland dugout at Villa Park overseeing a Sunderland defeat. What a difference a week makes.

Coleman surprised many in football after agreeing to take charge at Sunderland.

The 47-year-old was serenaded by the Wales fans, desperate for him to stay. This time it was the travelling Sunderland faithful chanting his name.

Suited Coleman made a point of applauding the away support before making his way to the bench, around a dozen press cameras snapping away.

Coleman is a big draw. It was a coup for Sunderland to land him as Simon Grayson’s replacement.

With so many injuries and a patched-up side this was always going to be a difficult evening. Yet it just highlighted exactly how big of a job Coleman has on his hands.

Coleman was forced to make five changes, his options severely hit with Watmore, Jonny Williams, Marc Wilson, Lamine Kone and Billy Jones all injured, Lee Cattermole suspended and Didier Ndong not involved.

Within 10 minutes, Sunderland, who had started brightly, were behind.

Matthews burst through the middle from right back but was dispossessed and lay injured on the turf as Villa broke.

The ball fell to Robert Snodgrass, who crossed from the right wing and left Adomah with a simple tap-in at the back post – where Matthews would have been was he not down injured.

Robbin Ruiter was alert to push Snodgrass’s low effort away for a corner, then Aidean McGeady shot wide and Grabban saw a low effort from a tight angle saved by Sam Johnstone, but Sunderland failed to test the Villa keeper enough.

Within four minutes of the restart, Villa had a 2-0 cushion as Onomah’s low effort took a wicked deflection off Tyias Browning before looping past Ruiter.

Grabban pulled one back in the 72nd minute, from James Vaughan’s knockdown, but Sunderland couldn’t force an equaliser. Another game. Another defeat.

Coleman applauded the travelling fans as he made his way down the tunnel, they pray he will steer the club up the table, but there is much work to be done.