Who was Grayson referring to and should fans be worried about 3-0 defeat? The Sunderland talking points

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An encouraging start to Simon Grayson’s tenure came to an abrupt halt as familiar failings returned at St Johnstone.

We take a look at some of the talking points...

Should Sunderland fans be worried?

There are reasons to be concerned, and reasons to be sanguine about what happened at McDiarmid Park.

Firstly, Sunderland were in control up until a bizarre first goal knocked them off course. For 70 minutes of the game, they played relatively well.

Crucially, St Johnstone are much further ahead in their pre-season schedule and it showed, particularly noticeable in the way they were able to counter with verve as the second half developed.

Of course, what it did demonstrate is that the soft centre that hurt Sunderland last season will take more than a new manager to solve.

It also underlined the biggest concern of the pre-season programme so far, that against some limited opposition the Black Cats have defended poorly, their back line often struggling to get on the same wavelength.

Solid cameos froms Papy Djilobodji and Tyias Browning offered some relief but Grayson appears to have his work cut out in this department.

Who was Grayson referring to?

The Sunderland boss made some explosive post-match comments that were well received by the supporters and rightly so.

It does, however, raise an interesting question to be answered over the coming weeks.

Grayson did not name the players he was referring to, but in removing Jeremain Lens and Jack Rodwell at half-time he made it clear they had not impressed. Wahbi Khazri, too, infuriated the Sunderland boss when he opted to shoot from a wide free-kick.

Khazri has been a delight to watch in pre-season but was poor at St Johnstone and Grayson was visibly unimpressed, critical too of his decision to pass back to Vito Mannone in the build-up to the first goal.

While the support are right behind Grayson and his vision, Khazri is a fan favourite and no wonder, players who can excite and change games have been too rare on Wearside in recent seasons.

The arrival of Aiden McGeady strongly suggests Khazri will leave this summer and his departure will be seen as a waste. There will be no sense of ‘good riddance’, as there will be when some other first team players depart.

His departure will be criticised, too, if Grayson’s new look side do not succeed.

Vaughan’s debut not quite the howler it seems

The 29-year-old missed a penalty and an open goal in what, to onlookers at least, must have sounded like the a nightmare debut.

In truth, though, there were some good signs and Grayson was right to note that his endeavour and physicality was well received by the travelling support.

Given that he is yet to train with his team-mates, some of the link-up play in the opening quarter of the game was very good and it was an obvious boost to the side to have someone able to take the ball and hold it up.

The striker has made a big impression behind the scenes already and his self-deprecating exchange with fans on twitter revealed a down to earth character.

None of that will count for much if the goals don’t come in the league season but there was more than enough on show to take encouragement from.