Rowell Report: Sunderland’s woeful midfield at the heart of relegation struggles this season

Lee Cattermole
Lee Cattermole
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When any team is bottom then criticism is going to come their way, especially in the Premier League where every game is put under the microscope and analysed.

Sunderland’s defence and attack has come in for heavy criticism but it has been in midfield that I think Sunderland have been woefully lacking this season.

The perfect midfield would have a blend of defensive strength, creativity and a goal threat.

But Sunderland’s midfield this season has had little of that, too often lightweight, weak and lacking creativity and goals.

If you can’t get that blend right, then at least excel at one of those things.

That is what Sam Allardyce did last year, when he went down the route of making Sunderland hard to beat.

He filled his midfield with competitors; Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff and Yann M’Vila were his midfield three and while there weren’t many goals in them they all had physical presence, were tough and provided a great shield in front of the back four.

If the opposition did get past those three battlers, then they faced Lamine Kone and Younes Kaboul who were even bigger and stronger as Allardyce’s system made Sunderland difficult to play against.

Admittedly, Cattermole and Kirchhoff have been out injured for most of the season while we all know Frenchman M’Vila was inexplicably not signed on a permanent deal last summer.

But none of those have been adequately replaced and we have suffered because of it.