Where do Sunderland and Chris Coleman go after latest limp defeat?

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Comparing Chris Coleman’s comments pre and post-match is a bleak exercise but one worth doing nevertheless.

Just over 24 hours before kick-off, he had challenged the players to take ownership of their performances and play on the front foot.

“Where we are, there’s no chance of us hiding for 90 minutes of a football match and then coming away with three points,” he said.

“It’s never going to happen. We are always going to get slapped.

“The other way is just going for it and having a right tear-up,

“That’s a much better feeling. Even if you come away and you didn’t get the win, you still feel that it is a better performance if there was fight, there was grit, and you didn’t crumble.”

Afterwards he was left sharing the same incredulity of the punch-drunk home support, having witnessed another display in which Sunderland’s timidity was the depressingly defining feature.

“When is the last time we came back from 1-0 down [to win]? I’m quite sure it was long before I arrived,” he said.

“The last time we showed a bit of mettle and got back into it, walking round with two fingers to everyone saying ‘doubt us, go on, because we’ll prove you wrong.’

“We just accept it, there is an acceptance of negativity and defeat, ‘here we go again’.”

It was another performance in which the Black Cats could not stand up to the pressure of the occasion.

They gave Brentford acres of space to operate in, their attacking quarter regularly making it to the edge of the Sunderland area having not once been engaged by an opponent.

On the ball, Sunderland had no poise or bravery. All too often it was simply hacked away, given straight back to the Bees, who were able to build up a head of a steam as if they were the home team, playing with an intent that suggested this grand stadium was their own.

Both goals came from a turnover of possession, Sunderland seemingly in control before playing themselves into trouble.

The first came as Lee Cattermole and John O’Shea dithered near their own box, the second from a slack Ethan Robson pass with most of his team-mates out of position.

What followed was a sight all too typical this season, Sunderland slower in thought and movement than their oppponents. First Kamo Mokotjo pounced to rifle the loose ball home, second Florian Jozefzoon broke free down the right to cross, Neal Maupay turning home.

Sunderland are staring down the barrel now.

The attempt to rebuild the squad from relegation, on a pitiful budget, failed and Sunderland have been overpowered too often this season for it be considered a coincidence.

Chris Coleman did what he could in January but this is a tough environment for unproven youngsters to come into.

League One is for the future of the club unthinkable but now seems a probability.

Fans turned their ire on Martin Bain towards the end and in the backdrop to the relegation run-in debate over the root of this failure and the long-term direction will rightly rage.

For Coleman, it is crunch time for his squad. He has just 48 hours to to prepare the side for a seismic clash against Bolton. Lose and many will begin to write the obituaries.

What will concern the Sunderland manager more than anything was that this had a distinct feel of the early season defeats under Simon Grayson to it.

Flashes of individual quality but a stark lark of cohesion, structure and discipline.

After making gentle strides early in his tenure Coleman will be acutely aware that he is not getting the right formula or finding a way to get his players reflection his ebullience on the pitch.

Too many went missing in this game and he has no choice but to mix it up. He will surely start by overhauling a tame defence and a missing midfield.

Adam Matthews, Lamine Kone, Jonny Williams and Paddy McNair now all come into the picture.

Will it be enough?

This was another day that underlined the long-term mismanagement that has brought a proud club to its knees.

Coleman has tried to separate himself from that and focus on the here and now.

He will know he has to do more, but it is high time the players reflected his own steely determination. If they don’t, they will send this club into the abyss.