Wise Men Say: Brighter times ahead despite late kick in the teeth for Sunderland

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Add 2016 to list of consecutive years without a win in August then.

It’s now been so long since we won in the first month of the season that, when we last did, we still had Jordan Henderson lining up for us.

A Jordan Henderson still so young and acne infused that the idea of him doing an advert for a skincare product was unthinkable. But while we may be still looking for our first victory, the Lads still don’t look as hopeless as they did this time last year.

Or the year before.

Or the year before that.

Against Southampton, Moyes’ boys took on a very capable team, away from home, and, if not for a goalkeeping error, would have won the game.

An error from the very young Jordan Pickford who, before conceding, played with the confidence you’d expect of a much more experienced player, making impressive saves and commanding his box.

Compare the state we’re in now to 12 months ago, when we rolled over to newly-promoted Norwich and then sneaked a couple of fortuitous draws against Swansea and Aston Villa.

Yes, we were lucky to get a draw off Aston Villa last season. When you get frustrated over this transfer window please remember that Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa almost beat us last season and we’d signed loads of players by then.

What I’m saying is that even though we’ve only taken one point from a possible nine, it’s important to view the wider picture.

On Saturday, we played well despite still missing key players and still needing some new recruits.

I thought Jack Rodwell and Steven Pienaar put good shifts in, but Lynden Gooch failed to get going.

That’s understandable, given his lack of experience, but it underlines that we need Jan Kirchhoff and Lee Cattemole available and some possible transfers for midfielders to be completed. It’s a similar to how I, and many, felt after the Manchester City game – if that’s what Moyes is doing with a team light on numbers, then we should be fine once he has his best 11 available.

The defence and attack look closer to what the manager wants though. Whatever grudge you may hold against Lamine Kone, you watch how much he improves our defence and realise we have to keep him.

The right-back position looks better now with Javier Manquillo putting in an impressive display on his debut, while Patrick van Aanholt defended with great maturity, when Saints targeted our left side early in the game.

The jury may still be out on Papy Djilobodji, but his ability with the ball at his feet provides encouragement.

He just needs to stop rushing into challenges.

It wasn’t all defending for Sunderland, the main attacking three were dangerous all afternoon.

If Borini’s bright first half and Januzaj’s trickery hadn’t been enough for Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte to be occupied with, Jermain Defoe certainly kept them guessing all afternoon.

Defoe’s touch and turn to win the penalty was delightful and it wasn’t a bad finish either, a touch of the Borini in its execution.

When you take all that into account added to the fact that most of us would have definitely taken a point before kick-off, there’s plenty to be positive about.

The manner of the result made it feel like a kick in the teeth. but it was a strong performance from a team that looks like it’s growing in confidence.

That growth will only continue with new signings and a clean bill of health.

The winless Augusts may be going on but the outlook for the season as a whole feels a lot different.

* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes