Sam Allardyce has praised the performances of Yann M’Vila – but told him he must control his emotions if he is to help Sunderland avoid the drop.
The Frenchman’s moment of madness in conceding Southampton’s match-winning penalty saw the Black Cats head into the two-week international break 19th in the Premier League.
Just six points from their opening dozen fixtures leaves Sunderland in a perilous position.
Ronald Koeman’s Saints side had been kept at bay until M’Vila needlessly fouled Ryan Bertrand, handing the visitors three points on a plate.
The error of judgement by the midfielder, who has arguably been Sunderland’s player of the season so far, left Allardyce floored.
And he has called on M’Vila and the rest of the squad to cut out the errors if they are to survive relegation to the Championship.
“Yann just didn’t need to do it,” a frustrated Allardyce said.
“He’d covered the ground and covered in behind Fabio (Borini), who’d let his full-back run.
“He just had to take him out the box, he didn’t have to go to ground.
“These things happen. Perhaps when you’re a bit frustrated, I don’t know.
“But he’s certainly one of our best players.
“I’ve been very impressed with him since I’ve been here and again on Saturday.
“It was just a shame he didn’t control his emotions there.
“We can’t seem to get it out of our make-up of making a silly mistake at some stage of the game.”
Allardyce didn’t pull any punches in his assessment of the club’s third home league defeat of the campaign, labelling the club’s survival hopes as a “mammoth task,” with a third of the season almost gone.
Defensively Sunderland’s back four impressed against high-flying Saints but Allardyce’s side offered little in the final third.
He added: “It cost us on Saturday, which was a great shame based on how well the team defended.
“We didn’t play well in possession, but we did do some very, very good defending, which was leaving Southampton like they weren’t going to score.
“But we gifted them the penalty.”
Sunderland don’t play again until they make the trip to Crystal Palace on Monday, November 23.
However, their Under-21s host Athletic Bilbao at the Stadium of Light in the final game of their Premier League International Cup group campaign this Wednesday, November 11 (KO 7pm).
Sunderland are unbeaten in the competition, having beaten Man City and held Borussia Monchengladbach to a draw and will progress if they avoid defeat.
Tickets cost £3 for adults and £1 for over 65s and under 16s. Entry will be through turnstiles 1-8 and 17-24 in the West Stand.