Cat’s Eye View: Brentford negatives outweigh positives ahead of huge week for under-fire Sunderland boss

Downbeat Sunderland fans suffer at Brentford. Picture by Frank Reid
Downbeat Sunderland fans suffer at Brentford. Picture by Frank Reid
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There are pubs on all four corners of Brentford’s Griffin Park and Sunderland fans could be forgiven for heading straight to one – if not all four – after another utterly dispiriting day.

Despite sitting second-bottom of the Championship, Sunderland were once again backed by a sold-out away following.

A little over 1,600 headed to Brentford with hope, rather than expectation, that Simon Grayson and his Sunderland side could finally deliver only their second league win.

The dressing rooms are in the corner next to the away end at Griffin Park, the Sunderland players roared off at the break after Lewis Grabban’s brace put them 3-1 up.

Fast forward an hour and those roars had turned to a mixture of muted applause, boos and sheer frustration on the terraces.

Sunderland had squandered another two points. They showed character to get straight back in the game, but any good team would capitalise on a 3-1 half-time lead.

Lacking leaders, Sunderland looked rudderless after the break, not knowing whether to press or sit back. In the end – and with more than a touch of fortune – Brentford hit back.

Sunderland sat deeper and deeper, inviting pressure. Same old sorry story. Fans have had enough. Simon Grayson would do well not to look at social media after a game.

A growing number are calling for his head. Grayson is experienced enough to know he needs victories. And quickly.

At games, the majority of boos and abuse has been reserved for the players and owner Ellis Short, but, with his squad now almost at full strength, there are no longer any excuses for under-par performances and this ongoing sorry winless streak.

There were some positives for Sunderland to cling on to at a windswept Griffin Park as a result of Storm Brian.

Grabban netted his fourth and fifth goal, Duncan Watmore was a pacy pest, Didier Ndong was relentless and Sunderland scored three goals.

Yet those – and the three-game unbeaten run – counts for little with fed-up supporters when you look at the wider picture. This squad should simply not be second bottom.

Sunderland possess quality attacking players in Aiden McGeady, Grabban, Watmore and Callum McManaman – when fit – but they can’t stop shipping goals – the 13th game Sunderland have now failed to keep a clean sheet.

Of the three recent draws, this was the most frustrating. Sunderland chucking away a two-goal lead.

A huge week lies in store. Blackburn Rovers were relegated last season with 51 points. With more than a quarter of the campaign gone Sunderland only have nine points.

Failure to win at least two of the three games before the international break will see Sunderland entrenched in yet another relegation dogfight, if they aren’t already.

Sunderland fans were in need of a stiff drink at Brentford, Grayson is in desperate need of three points.

Failure to land back-to-back wins over Bristol City and Bolton – or at the very least four points – and the writing will be on the wall.