Cats Eye View: Transfer window can’t open quickly enough for Sunderland

Vito Mannone makes a fine stop to deny Liverpool. Picture by Frank Reid
Vito Mannone makes a fine stop to deny Liverpool. Picture by Frank Reid
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Typical Sunderland, eh?

45 minutes of hard graft, grit and determination undone in the space of 22 second-half seconds.

The first-half performance from Sam Allardyce’s men was a world away from the pitiful performance at the Etihad Stadium on Boxing Day.

They were quick to close down the Liverpool forwards, giving them little time and space.

Attacking wise, Sunderland posed Liverpool few problems but at least the Reds knew they were in a game.

Vito Mannone would have grabbed the headlines for his saves in the first half – one from Firmino tipped onto the post was world- class.

That was until Sunderland switched off 22 seconds into the second half.

Christian Benteke alert to sweep the ball past Mannone after Liverpool took advantage of Sunderland losing the ball in the middle.

Typical Sunderland.

All that hard work undone in the blink of an eye.

There was to be no way back.

There had been several big positives first half too.

Mannone’s display.

After conceding four at the Etihad in a rusty first performance back after replacing the dropped Costel Pantilimon, Mannone was much improved last night.

And with Jordan Pickford seemingly on his way back to the North East from his loan spell at Preston North End, Mannone has to keep performing.

Lee Cattermole was back in the middle and playing well, setting the tempo early on.

Well organised, great determination and a will to work harder than anyone else.

Cattermole set the tone in the opening 45 seconds. He was in sharply on Philippe Coutinho to rob the Liverpool playmaker of the ball.

Moments later Cattermole was again throwing himself about to win the ball, constantly talking, constantly organising, constantly berating.

Benteke denied from close range.

Cattermole faded as the game wore on, his lack of football catching up with him.

But his return is still a major boost for Sunderland and will be over the coming weeks.

For Allardyce though, the transfer window cannot open quickly enough.

Sunderland’s defensive options are down to the bare bones.

Wes Brown was given the nod to start alongside Sebastian Coates last night.

He was caught out for the goal, which proved crucial. He had been enjoying a relatively stress-free evening until that point too.

It was a major surprise, Liverpool didn’t target the veteran more in only his second start of the season.

Instead, Brown was allowed to keep it nice and simple, unruffled until the goal.

His colleague, Sebastian Coates, endured another night to forget.

Stray passes, loose balls and clumsy fouls conceded.

He went off injured, adding yet more woe to Allardyce’s defensive headache.

Younes Kaboul and John O’Shea are already out, Coates hobbled off.

Sunderland are in crisis. And their defensive woes are at the heart of it.

The signing of centre-half Lamine Kone from French side Lorient cannot come quickly enough.

It is asking a lot to expect the Ivory Coast international – the first of the January recruits – to settle in the Premier League straight away.

Sunderland have no choice though. He needs to hit the ground running.