Wise Men Say: Familiar problems rear their head for Black Cats once again

Injured midfielder Lee Cattermole troops off disconsolately at Everton
Injured midfielder Lee Cattermole troops off disconsolately at Everton
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Talk about back to earth with a bump.

The derby euphoria has definitely worn off, and gone with it are the hopes that Big Sam had whipped the defence into shape.

Of course, it was never going to be a quick fix, and Allardyce needs to be given time to put his stamp on things.

But I did allow myself a slight hope that there might have been a little bit of an immediate impact on the rearguard.

No such luck.

Things weren’t helped by the absence of John O’Shea and Younes Kaboul.

But, for the first Everton goal, the same old failings were there for all to see.

Patrick van Aanholt failed to track back and Billy Jones missed the run of Arouna Kone.

Same old, same old.

They weren’t the only ones – Wes Brown was at sixes and sevens too often, although that was to be expected given the amount of time he has been out since his last first-team game.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom.

We hit the post twice before the Toffees took the lead – van Aanholt and Adam Johnson both denied by the woodwork.

There were also signs of Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher working well together.

And, on top of that, they deserve some credit for having dragged themselves back from two goals down – Defoe and Fletcher both doing well to find the net.

But even those paltry bright spots can’t really count as any consolation for a rather shambolic defensive display.

And the sight of Lee Cattermole limping off the field capped things off for another bad day for the Red and Whites at Goodison Park.

It’s going to be another long, hard season.

To be honest, even after the derby delight, I don’t think anyone was really kidding themselves that anything else than a relegation scrap is in store.

Whether Sam can find a magic wand to turn things around remains to be seen.

What isn’t in doubt is that to save Sunderland from the drop, the new manager must find a way to stop his defenders from making the same basic and absolutely appalling errors time and time again.

That is no mean feat, given that so many of the previous Black Cats bosses have been unable to do that on a regular basis.

They have, of course, managed to pull off great escape after great escape.

But you have to start to wonder how many times you can tempt fate before you finally succumb.

Is there money to spend in January?

Can Sam find the players to turn the club into something other than perennial relegation candidates?

You have to hope the answer to both of those questions is ‘yes’. Because if it isn’t then nothing is going to change.

And the prospect of watching year after year where Sunderland continue to struggle, and sack manager after manager, is a far from an appealing prospect.

Let’s just hope that things don’t have to get much worse before they get better.

* 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