No sign of dire home form ending, Jack Rodwell booed plus four other things learned from Sheffield United defeat

Jack Rodwell scores a consolation goal.
Jack Rodwell scores a consolation goal.
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Sunderland's season took a turn for the worse with the sorry 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United.

A crowd of almost 30,000 watched the action unfold but there were thousands of empty seats come the final whistle after another dismal home performance.

Didier Ndong in action for Sunderland.

Didier Ndong in action for Sunderland.

Those that remained booed the players off, just as they had at half-time, to leave the Sunderland squad in no doubt what they thought of the latest performance.

Here's what we learned.

Playing at the Stadium of Light has become a real problem for Sunderland.

It is now 267 days since the Black Cats last won a home game, a pathetic run stretching back to December.

Callum McManaman impressed as a second half sub.

Callum McManaman impressed as a second half sub.

Simon Grayson has only taken charge of three home games but they have yet to yield three points; a draw with Derby County followed by defeats to Leeds United and Sheffield United.

The good - or bad news - is that Sunderland have another chance to quickly end the dismal home record with the visit of Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

The patience of an increasing number of fans has snapped, defeat on Tuesday doesn't bare thinking about.

Jack Rodwell the target of fan anger.

The only player from last season's squad not to have their weekly pay packet cut by 40 per cent was Jack Rodwell, his contract was the only one that didn't contain that clause following relegation.

The midfielder, understood to be on £60,000 a week, is the highest paid player and he came under fire from supporters in his first appearance of the season.

He scored a last minute consolation goal but it didn't gloss over another poor showing from the former Everton and Manchester City man.

He was booed during the second half by sections of the frustrated home support, though he wasn't the only one to have an off day.

Far from it, there were very few players who emerged with credit.

Team selection and tactics didn't work.

Injuries to Lee Cattermole and Aiden McGeady didn't help, while Bryan Oviedo wasn't included after travelling half way around the world on international duty.

Yet Simon Grayson still sprung a few surprises with his team selection. Jack Rodwell was in, playing in a holding midfield role. Not suited to his style of play.

Sunderland started with a back three in a 3-4-1-2 formation but it seemed to take the players a while to get used to it.

The Black Cats lacked width, pace and creativity in midfield with only Jonny Williams showing flashes of intent.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but the system should have been changed quicker than it was against a newly-promoted side that was comfortable for large periods.

Brendan Galloway needs a spell out of the side.

Oviedo was missing so Galloway was restored in a more advanced role down the left flank. He struggled again.

It's fair to say the Sunderland faithful haven't taken to Galloway, with groans with every mistake. His confidence appears low and perhaps a spell out of the limelight would be best.

If Oviedo is fit enough he should start against Forest. Failing that, Grayson could do worse than play Adam Matthews or Billy Jones on that side if he reverts to a back four.

Too many long balls and just a single shot on target.

Sunderland were one dimensional with far too many long balls and not enough creative flair or ideas; it was easy for the Blades to defend.

On the rare occasion Sunderland did produce an attacking move, Lewis Grabban and Jonny Williams both shot from distance - high or wide of goal.

Sunderland managed just one attempt on goal all day. And that was Rodwell's consolation header.

A pathetic stat. Sunderland's failure to boost their attacking ranks on deadline day always had the potential to come back to bite. It did, in the first game since the window closed.

And finally...there were some positives.

It was mainly doom and gloom but there were some positives. Williams needs to improve his end product but he was arguably Sunderland's brightest spark.

Williams was always looking for the ball, which couldn't be said for others and he showed a willingness to attack and get at the United defence.

His final ball and decision making needs to improve but clear signs that he could have a positive impact.

Winger Callum McManaman, who came off the bench, did more than most in the time he was on, providing the assist for Rodwell. He needs to start on Tuesday.