Cats Eye View: Sunderland will have to throw caution to the wind soon

Sunderland forward Fabio Borini rues a costly miss in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Burnley. Picture by Frank Reid
Sunderland forward Fabio Borini rues a costly miss in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Burnley. Picture by Frank Reid
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Sunderland’s goals for tally makes for almost as depressing reading as the league table itself.

Just 24 in 28 Premier League matches, less than a goal a game for the long-suffering supporters to cheer in what has been a miserable season on and off the pitch.

Jermain Defoe is top scorer with 14, enough to finally earn him that much-coveted England recall.

Where would Sunderland be without his goals?

We all know the answer to that one, the Championship.

And even with his goals this season, a return to the second tier of English football seems inevitable unless Sunderland can win at least five – probably six – of their final 10 games.

Burnley at home was a must-win match against season-long strugglers on the road.

Yet once again David Moyes’ men fluffed their lines at home.

The first half was dire.

It was no surprise the game was last on Match of the Day, with their cameras catching Ellis Short’s wife fighting the urge to nod off. Who could blame her?

It was turgid stuff. Lacking energy, creativity, inspiration. You wouldn’t have guessed Sunderland were fighting for their lives.

A penny for the thoughts of former Sunderland boss Peter Reid, who was watching from the directors’ box.

The game suited Burnley, but the Black Cats should have forced the issue more in the opening 45 minutes. The players seemed paralysed by nerves.

Against Manchester City, Sunderland adopted a high-press game.

It was the opposite against Burnley until an improved second half, with Sunderland finally stringing passes together and creating chances.

Unfortunately, none fell to Defoe.

Adnan Januzaj saw one effort palmed away by the excellent Tom Heaton, another flew just wide, while Seb Larsson sidefooted over before Billy Jones’s miss of the season.

Fabio Borini also guilty of not converting two great chances; the first a tame effort with his right-foot following the pass of the match from Bryan Oviedo. Later, Heaton again made a comfortable save.

Borini with his head in his hands – a sight Sunderland fans have become all-too familiar seeing.

Borini has spoken openly over his frustrations of playing wide left.

His poor goal tally – just one consolation goal all season – can, in part, be put down to him being played out of position. His poor finishing hasn’t helped either.

Borini said recently: “I need the goals, but more than anything I need to play every week and to know what my role is because it has changed so many times.”

He got his wish against Burnley. Moyes partnered him with Defoe.

Having failed to convert two good openings, Borini didn’t take his chance.

But until Victor Anichebe is fit enough to start, Moyes’ options are limited when it comes to engineering goals.

Sunderland are toothless when Defoe doesn’t score.

When Moyes pushed Larsson and Januzaj further forward, Sunderland looked far more of a threat and had enough chances to win.

Throwing caution to the wind is something Moyes will have to do far more in the final 10 games if they are to stand a chance of staying up.

Having left themselves with it all to do in the final two months, they are almost out of other options.