Chris Young’s Analysis: Dick Advocaat faces an uphill battle to change Sunderland’s mentality

AFC Bournemouth v Sunderland in Premier League at the Vitality Stadium. Steve Cook' 'RC190915sAFCSunderland-   PICTURE BY RICHARD CREASE
AFC Bournemouth v Sunderland in Premier League at the Vitality Stadium. Steve Cook' 'RC190915sAFCSunderland- PICTURE BY RICHARD CREASE
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Captain-not-so-marvel Younes Kaboul gathered his team-mates in a pre-kick-off huddle and delivered his rallying call.

It’s been years since Sunderland have been a team of ‘huddlers’, but Kaboul was clearly shouting his message forcibly after taking the arm-band from ill central defensive partner John O’Shea.

The players change, managers come and go, yet here we all are back at good old square one... again

It was probably along the lines of keeping things tight for the opening 20 minutes...

But it was merely empty noise. Unfortunately, Sunderland fans are used to it.

Each and every time this club has appeared to be taking the first few yards on turning a corner over the last three or four years, it has proved to be a false dawn.

The players change, managers come and go, yet here we all are back at good old square one... again.

There’s a deep-rooted vulnerability about Sunderland which makes opposition sides lick their lips.

It means they are never too far away from an utterly dispiriting defeat such as Saturday’s, even after baby steps of progress were being taken following the opening two games of the campaign.

The unsavoury truth is that there’s a losing mentality at Sunderland which seems to quickly envelope new signings when they walk in the door.

That’s not healthy whatsoever, and neither is it an easy habit to break from.

In fact, Dick Advocaat may be facing one of the sternest challenges of his career to develop new traits.

It’s the same at Aston Villa and it’s the same at Newcastle.

There might be brief periods when it’s banished, as it was under Advocaat in the final nine games of last season, but it returns again and again.

The newly-promoted clubs are not contaminated by the same disease after winning the majority of their games in the Championship, and it’s one of the main reasons why both Norwich and Bournemouth have emerged victorious against Sunderland in these opening six outings.

They have that hunger and belief that they will finish on the winning side.

Admittedly, Bournemouth enjoyed the rub of the green on Saturday.

Matt Ritchie will perhaps never score a better goal than the one he sublimely pinged into the top corner for 2-0, ex-Cherries striker Jermain Defoe missed a golden opportunity to haunt a former club (again) and Jeremain Lens saw a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside by an awful decision from the linesman.

But other than a 20-minute spell at the start of the second half, Bournemouth were the better side and merited the victory.

Sunderland couldn’t handle the pace and movement of Callum Wilson.

Kaboul never looked comfortable up against the striker after he was turned with frightening ease in the fourth minute as the former Coventry striker’s fierce shot made an early breakthrough.

The wild kick which earned him a second yellow card summed up his troubles.

But neither could Sunderland match the tempo with which Bournemouth played at. There was no dallying on the ball from Eddie Howe’s side or attempt to play possession football.

It was one and two-touch stuff at speed and going straight for the jugular.

Howe correctly grasped Sunderland’s defensive vulnerabilities and the possibility that the visitors would wilt if Bournemouth got an early goal. He wasn’t too far wide of the mark...

Such is the fragile state of Sunderland’s back-line, particularly without the organisational abilities of O’Shea, then if teams go at them, they will usually earn some reward.

Leicester did likewise on the opening day.

Is it any coincidence that Sunderland’s best display of the campaign so far came against a Spurs side who sat off and practised a ‘softly-softly’ approach for the first hour?

Even then, Sunderland emerged empty-handed and Advocaat’s concerns about his team losing ground on their relegation rivals is beginning to become a reality.

The longer Sunderland go without a Premier League win to their name, the more they are going to be requiring yet another miraculous escape act to beat the drop.

Just think back. In 2013-14, Sunderland had one point from the first eight games.

With a trip to Old Trafford to come, and then the visit of travel experts West Ham after that, Sunderland might not be much better off this time around.

At least Advocaat has a few options in a bid to eradicate the cheap goals, while still giving Sunderland sufficient threat at the other end (and no, that’s not an easy balancing act to find).

DeAndre Yedlin’s debut against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup tomorrow night should provide an indication of the American’s prowess in the right-back slot, particularly as Billy Jones struggled again on the south coast.

Lee Cattermole, Seb Larsson, Jack Rodwell and Adam Johnson will all be harbouring hopes that another opportunity beckons too.

At present there’s probably only Yann M’Vila and maybe Ola Toivonen and Fabio Borini who are assured of keeping their places.

But there is a bigger problem here than just personnel.

Until Sunderland can win some games consistently and duly emerge from their state of fragility, then it’s going to be the same old pattern.

The concern is that such a run of victories might not happen until they’re in the Championship.