Wise Men Say: City performance gives no encouragement for Liverpool clash

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I always used to avoid watching highlight programmes back when Sunderland lose.

I think the eternal hope you have as a fan that your side will improve dictates such decisions; don’t watch it back, things will get better. They have to, right?

It certainly feels like they can’t get much worse.

I no longer avoid these highlight shows as from last week, because this side look so far away from being able to turn their season round, that I think some acceptance has crept in.

It’s heartbreaking to me, it really is.

It’s head out of the sand time.

Despite what most people seem to say, we had a decent team not too long ago. Remember Steed Malbranque gliding effortlessly across the field, or Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan scoring with regularity?

What about Cana and Cattermole crunching into tackles, or Jordan Henderson moving the ball quickly and decisively? Michael Turner and Anton Ferdinand looked like cultured centre-halves when considering what we’re witnessing at present.

Recruitment has been woeful in the last four years and if relegation can’t be fought off yet again, nobody can say it hasn’t been coming.

The return to the side for the only player on that list still at the club was the only positive factor from the Boxing Day shocker.

Every time you think the club may have moved past Lee Cattermole, his absence makes you realise how important he is.

Watching the Sunderland players stroll around as if they were playing a pre-season friendly at Darlington was infuriating. Raheem Sterling scoring a header from an unchallenged cross says everything you need to know about the defensive performance in the first half. Unchallenged cross, against Manchester City. Raheem Sterling scoring a header. A header.

I remember being mystified by Matt Kilgallon being out jumped by the same player in the build-up to a LIverpool goal in a 3-0 walloping a few years ago, and thanks to a pathetic piece of defending by Billy Jones he went one better by scoring himself. Raheem Sterling. A header.

Pathetic is in fact just one of many words that can be used to describe the shambolic performance of the players on Saturday. I was so angry at half-time that I was hoping Sam would get on the blower to his old mate Phil Brown and get him to give the side a public dressing down in the centre circle.

Not that Allardyce gets away with criticism.

If anybody can give me some justification as to why Danny Graham should play in a wide position then I’d love to hear it.

Actually, I wouldn’t. Any attempted explanation would likely be as nonsensical as the decision to do it.

The inclusion of Vito Mannone was strange too. Not that Costel can make a strong claim not to be dropped or anything, more just that Mannone was utterly awful in his last outing, also a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City.

Sam wasn’t around then, of course, but his coaching staff were.

As you can probably sense, I’m not particularly confident going into a game against Liverpool on Wednesday night.

Although, wouldn’t it be typical of Sunderland to win that game and keep the low flickering flame of hope alive? Before then losing to Aston Villa.

Actually, they’ll probably lose them both.

* 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