SAFC Analysis: Bleak, depressing outlook for Sunderland once again

The one bright spot for Sunderland as Duncan Watmore grabs a late consolation - his first Premier League goal. Picture by Frank Reid
The one bright spot for Sunderland as Duncan Watmore grabs a late consolation - his first Premier League goal. Picture by Frank Reid
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It seems a daft thing to be saying after just two games of the season, but it feels a long time since it was as depressing as this.

Sunderland fans endured utter humiliation in the 19 and 15-point campaigns, yet those were sides of limited ability, particularly the latter one. There was a clear and understandable explanation for why the club found themselves where they did.

Even when Sunderland seemed to be heading for the drop prior to the Great Escape, there were obvious scapegoats in Paolo Di Canio and Roberto De Fanti.

But even at such a tender stage of this season, public opinion has hit rock-bottom. Everyone is sick of this same old cycle of struggle.

In a game where Sunderland’s players were supposed to produce a big reaction from the previous weekend’s shambles at Leicester, they served up more of the same rubbish.

It perhaps wasn’t as bad as the dross at the King Power Stadium, but it wasn’t far off.

It was no wonder that Sunderland fans turned on chairman Ellis Short for the first time with boisterous chants towards the American, who was not present at the Stadium of Light.

Short was always going to be the obvious target for supporters if things went wrong against a Norwich side, who displayed the cohesion sadly lacking in Sunderland’s ranks.

Dick Advocaat is clearly growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of signings and every supporter both shares those sentiments, and realises where the club is heading if several more fresh faces don’t arrive.

Swap Jeremain Lens for the injured Adam Johnson, and this squad is not significantly better than the one which struggled last season.

While debutant Yann M’Vila showed promise, Sunderland were again all over the place at the back.

The first and third goals came when Sunderland were sleeping, while Patrick van Aanholt - again awful - didn’t cover himself in glory for any of them.

It wasn’t any better at the other end, with a first half header from Steven Fletcher the only genuine chance Sunderland created until Duncan Watmore’s late consolation.

At least Watmore’s introduction from the bench produced one positive, with the 21-year-old by far the most accomplished performer in red and white.

It remains a puzzle why it’s taken so long to see him in the Premier League, or why Danny Graham was introduced ahead of him at half-time.

Yes, it was his Premier League debut, but Watmore showed the hunger, confidence and drive that was sadly lacking in some of his team-mates.

With two games gone against sides expected to be in or around Sunderland in the bottom eight, the Black Cats have no points and have conceded seven goals in the process.

It doesn’t exactly bode well.