SAFC Analysis: Grossly incompetent start a worrying sign for Sunderland

Dick Advocaat watches his men slump to a dreadful defeat at Leicester
Dick Advocaat watches his men slump to a dreadful defeat at Leicester
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Perhaps those flowers sent to Dick Advocaat’s wife during the summer should have been accompanied by a ‘With Sympathy’ card.

Did the 67-year-old really postpone his retirement for this? This complete and utter shambles. This reminder that those capitulations which became a hallmark of last season are still, well and truly, alive and kicking.

In a 15-minute first-half collapse of gross incompetency – after Sunderland had actually begun the game pretty well and could easily have gone ahead – the Black Cats destroyed any hint of quiet optimism at the start of the season.

Sunderland were arguably even worse than they had been in last season’s 8-0 drubbing at Southampton.

Leicester were first to every loose ball, could actually pass it and didn’t suffer from defensive suicide.

Most worryingly of all, they looked a couple of yards fitter.

The result – and particularly the performance – will only raise the volume levels about the need for further investment and rightly so.

If Sunderland are to stick with Advocaat’s favoured 4-3-3, then they clearly need to be playing a lone striker who can hold the ball up.

Jermain Defoe – one of the prescious few in red and white to emerge with a modicum of credit – is not that player, and that was why Advocaat brought on Steven Fletcher for Lee Cattermole on the half-hour mark. The ball just kept coming back at Sunderland with devastating consequences.

They clearly need a midfielder too. The trio of Cattermole, Seb Larsson and Jack Rodwell were simply outplayed and outmanoeuvred by the Foxes.

But it was the defence, which Sunderland have already ‘strengthened’ so far this summer, that was the greatest cause for alarm.

After John O’Shea was left on the bench, Sebastian Coates and Younes Kaboul were ran utterly ragged by the engine of Jamie Vardy and trickery of Riyad Mahrez, with debutant Shinji Okazaki simply picking up the pieces.

Kaboul and Coates have played minimal minutes during 2015 and boy did it show.

Yet they weren’t helped out by their full-backs. Billy Jones was all over the place – a pattern continued by replacement Adam Matthews – while Patrick van Aanholt simply abandoned his defensive duties.

The Dutchman decided to play as a left winger after the opening half-hour and predictably Sunderland were tortured down that flank.

To their credit, Defoe and Fletcher kept the scoreline respectable, when Leicester could easily have reached half-a-dozen or more.

But in truth, there was nothing respectable about this.

If this is a sign of things to come... well, it surely can’t be a happy ending for a fourth time.