Rowell Report: Sunderland’s new signings can’t mask the fact it’s another poor start to season

Yann M'Vila in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa.
Yann M'Vila in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa.
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Sunderland got a decent point at Villa Park, but it still leaves us at the bottom of the Premier League table without a win from the first four fixtures.

What makes that more worrying is out of those four opponents, only Swansea are likely to be in the top half of the table come May.

However, an away point in the Premier League is always to be valued, and there’s no doubt that the fight and determination in the team now is far better than they showed in the first two games.

Sunderland had to dig in and use that fighting spirit at Villa Park, especially after going 2-1 down just before half-time, but they regrouped and didn’t let the game get away from them.

It was fitting that Sunderland’s best two summer signings, Yann M’Vila and Jeremain Lens, were on the scoresheet, with M’Vila’s superb free-kick being something I didn’t know he had in his locker, and he’s set the bar high for any set-pieces around the box from now on.

He also produced the pass of the match to Jermain Defoe, who if he had shown a better first touch, would have been one-on-one with the goalkeeper and you’d have backed him from there to put us 3-2 up.

Midfield players who have the vision to score and can pick a pass, like M’Vila did on Saturday, have been thin on the ground for Sunderland over recent years, and the loan man’s attitude is going to be a huge influence on the team this season.

After conceding an alarming number of goals, Dick Advocaat chose his third central defensive combination of the short campaign so far, recalling Younes Kaboul to partner John O’Shea – a pairing I thought might have started the season.

If we are to ever start looking solid at the back and keeping clean sheets, that partnership has got to gel.

Sunderland fans got their first sight of new signing Ola Toivonen, when he replaced the out-of-sorts Lee Cattermole, and he made his mark in providing an assist for Lens’ equaliser.

But despite the impact of the new signings, and a hard-earned point at Villa, the Premier League table tells you that overall we’ve had another poor start to the season.