Sam Allardyce must find way of stopping Sunderland pressing self-destruct button

Dusan Tadic celebrates his goal
Dusan Tadic celebrates his goal
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Sunderland were their own worst enemies yet again against Southampton, in a game where they were always second best and barely had a shot on target.

But it still took a moment of madness to sperate the two sides at the Stadium of Light.

Yann M’Vila has been Sunderland’s best player this season but only he knows what he was thinking when conceding a penalty when there was no danger to the Sunderland goal.

Never go to ground unless you are certain of winning the ball.

If not, stay on your feet. It is basic stuff and the French international is experienced enough to know better.

One of Sam Allardyce’s biggest challenges is to stop Sunderland being a team that always presses the self-destruct button.

For years now we have been the sort of team that scores ridiculous own goals, gets needless red cards and - as on Saturday - give away unnecessary penalties, making things far harder than they need to be.

Sunderland defended better on Saturday than they did at Everton, but at the expense of any attacking threat and Southampton’s back four and goalkeeper won’t have many easier afternoons all season.

It seems that if Sunderland get it right at the back then we never look like scoring and whenever we look good going forward we can’t defend.

And getting the balance right between attacking and defending is so elusive.

Costel Pantilimon kept Sunderland in the game with two or three smart saves and when Sebastian Coates cleared off the line, I thought we were destined to keep a clean sheet until M’Vila’s fateful intervention with just 20 minutes to go.

Saturday’s game won’t live long in the memory.

It was flat and uninspiring for long periods.

The effort was there but there was little creativity and towards the end of the game we got desperate and resorted to hopeful long balls.

Sam Allardyce rung the changes and tried a different system but Saturday’s performance suggests that he is still a long way from finding the right combination and his best team from the squad of players he has available to him.

Southampton were the better team and fully deserved their win - no question.

But without our usual generosity we might have been talking about an ugly goalless draw that would at least have given us a clean sheet and a precious point.