Cats Eye View: Goal-shy Sunderland must abandon cautious approach and recall Didier Ndong at Leicester City

David Moyes
David Moyes
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It was a far cry from Sunderland’s last trip to Vicarage Road.

On a warm, sunny May day in 2016, Sunderland faced the Hornets safe in the knowledge their Premier League fate was secured.

Sunderland, under Sam Allardyce, had a settled team that had become hard to beat on their way to safety.

The away end was absolutely bouncing, fans without a care in the world.

Fast forward almost 12-months and the weather was pleasant again and the Sunderland fans again superb.

But gut-wrenchingly this time the club’s top flight status also appears known – with Sunderland seemingly heading out of the division.

Sunderland need a miracle. And on the current evidence, there is no chance of that happening.

It is hard being a Sunderland supporter. Their team is giving them little cause for optimism, with the pressure mounting on Moyes.

The Scot has three years left on his deal and has already confirmed he will stay regardless of which division they are in next season, with Ellis Short and Martin Bain still behind him.

2016-17 has been gruelling and deflating with Sunderland seemingly lurching from one crisis to another; the 10-game winless streak to start the season to the chronic injury problems, to the dire financial situation, to the controversial New York trip, to defeat after defeat after defeat.

Sunderland played well in spells against Watford and they had defended well until the comical winner. Just the three free headers inside the area.

Too many players switching off, not concentrating, ball-watching. Jordan Pickford was superb but he can’t do it all by himself.

Jermain Defoe, who hasn’t scored since the 4-0 thrashing over Crystal Palace, was again left isolated. He remains four goals shy of beating his best ever tally of 18 goals in a Premier League season.

Didier Ndong should have started. Sunderland miss his energy and ability to get them motoring up the pitch. His absence these past two games has been inexplicable.

Dropped, just when the £13.6million signing looked to have found his feet and rhythm in the English top flight.

He has to start on Tuesday night at the King Power Stadium. Sunderland can no longer afford to be cautious and negative in their approach.

Ndong played well when he came on, seemingly with a point to prove. He should, of course, have been brought on earlier.

Moyes has to be more proactive, rather than reacting once Sunderland have gone behind.

Sunderland’s midfield was one-paced, devoid of creativity with their play littered with poor decision making and rank bad passing.

Moyes can be blamed for plenty of things – team selection, tactics, a negative approach – but you can’t blame him for well paid players not doing the basics right. Fabio Borini and Adnan Januzaj – booed when he was subbed – both missing good openings.

Confidence is low, yes, but supporters are being let down week after week.

Watford was a must-win. Leicester City is a must-win. Every game now is a must-win.

Soon it might not matter.

Rock-bottom, devoid of goals and confidence with pressure mounting by the match.

The talk post-match was of Sunderland needing a miracle. They certainly need divine intervention from somewhere.