NEDUM Onuoha insists the two sides to Sunderland’s season were summed up by their West Brom surrender.
The Black Cats were on course for a first victory since January at half-time against the Baggies on Saturday – a result which would gone a long way to securing their Premier League status.
But second half goals from Youssouf Mulumbu and Paul Scharner kept Sunderland in the relegation dogfight, with Steve Bruce heading to former club and fellow strugglers Birmingham next Saturday just six points above the drop zone.
Onuoha believes the contrast between the first and second half displays typified how Sunderland were genuine European challengers before Christmas yet now find themselves at the wrong end of the league.
The on-loan Manchester City defender told the Echo: “The difference between the first half and the second half probably sums us up from the first to the second half of the season.
“I don’t personally know what has changed but we need to sit down and have a look at it because it’s not good enough. We were in a very good position when we were 2-1 up and felt quite comfortable.
“To lose a game like that, it’s terrible.
“We’re definitely in a relegation battle – we have to win games. The run we’ve been on has affected our league position so much.
“We just have to start winning games and hopefully we’ll be okay.
“It’s been a tough few months. We’ve played some top sides, but then we’ve not acquitted ourselves the way we should or the way we have done in the past. We need to get through this and get through the other side in a much healthier position.”
Defensively, Sunderland were again a shambles as they took their tally conceded to 21 in eight games.
Even when Phil Bardsley spared Sunderland’s blushes by regaining the lead with a thunderbolt just three minutes after West Brom’s alarming first equaliser, the Black Cats continued to be plagued by panic at the back.
“The first goal was soft but that’s what’s been killing us recently,” added Onuoha. “Some of the goals we’ve conceded have been so soft and at bad times which changes the flow of a game.
“In the first half of the season, we had as many clean sheets as anyone. We just need to cut out those silly goals.
“We felt comfortable after Phil’s goal but then lo and behold, it was the same mistakes again and we conceded a goal which changed the whole feeling around the game.
“They passed it through us for the second two goals – you can’t let players in the Premier League do things like that because you’ll be punished.”