Rowell Report: If we are to produce greatest escape ever, Sunderland need to cut out bad habits

Man City's Sergio Aguero gets the better of Sunderland's John O'Shea.
Man City's Sergio Aguero gets the better of Sunderland's John O'Shea.
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Time is running out for Sunderland as another game ticks by with another defeat, this time against Manchester City.

The quality of the opposition meant it was always going to be tough, but while it was an improvement on recent home games against Stoke and Southampton, that means little as the only thing that matters now is points.

For 40 minutes Sunderland more than held their own against City.

The visitors had the majority of the possession, as expected, but Caballero was the busier keeper and the City goal in most danger.

In fact, Pickford didn’t have a save to make before picking the ball out of his net maddeningly just before half-time.

Conceding late goals in both halves has become a huge problem for Sunderland as if we had gone in at the interval the whole mood and morale of the players and fans would have been positive and upbeat, but Aguero’s goal flattened everybody and from there City cruised home with a bit to spare.

Jermain Defoe is developing an unwanted habit of hitting the woodwork and just like at Everton, if Sunderland were to get anything his 20-yard strike had to go in.

It might have made a difference or City might have just raised their game more and still won, but we’ll never know.

So many things happened on Sunday that regular Sunderland watchers probably predicted with the biggest being Sergio Aguero would almost certainly score, also conceding just before the interval, drawing a blank ourselves and inevitably losing are almost expected now and becoming familiar traits.

Sunderland have 11 games left and David Moyes has to find at least five wins.

This time last year, Sam Allardyce put together a great run in the last 11 games that saw just one defeat, but crucially even that great run only produced three victories so to somehow find five – while not impossible – would match or even better any previous great escape.