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Wise Men Say: Signs of slight progress, even in defensive display in Anfield defeat

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It says a lot about ability of the football team you support when you feel like you can accurately analyse what progress is being made by the sheer nature of the latest defeat.

That’s where we are as Sunderland fans though.

It also proves just how long a month or so can be in football when you suddenly don’t sense an overwhelming sense of doom amongst the fanbase when your team slips back to the bottom of the table after this latest defeat.

This is because, finally, there are signs of a group of players who have an idea and a mission when they step onto the field.

As it proved at Anfield on Saturday, they may not be good enough to execute it every week and get the desired result, but there is a clear attempt to carry out clear instructions set by their manager.

Our stance at Wise Men Say Towers has always been the same regarding David Moyes as manager of Sunderland.

We were very critical of the way he was doing things before that win on the south coast against Bournemouth a few weeks back.

Quite a few listeners were quite quick to try to accuse us of being fickle or small-minded once those back-to-back wins suddenly propelled the Black Cats back into the reaches of the other struggling clubs.

But, to reiterate, our stance has always been the same.

We can (reluctantly) take losing games if there appears to be a plan; an idea of what is needed to win a game of football.

We can take it if the players look like they want to actually be here and put everything they have into it.

Long-term thinking and planning is fine – it’s overdue, in fact.

But, firstly, set a side up with a plan of how to try and score more the other team within the 90 minutes of football.

The opening day defeat to Manchester City aside, there was little to zero evidence of this.

The players were set up rigidly and stood back while waiting for each other, or Jermain Defoe to be precise, to do something. It was football improvisation at its worst.

Victor Anichebe’s inclusion has helped, obviously, but there’s also been a distinct change in the attitude of the manager, and subsequently the players as a result.

Suddenly we aren’t all being told how rubbish we are and that this group of players are only good enough to draw at home to West Brom.

Suddenly the full-backs are getting involved in interesting areas and the front two (along with Watmore) are interchanging.

Suddenly it looks like the players want to be here.

That might seem to be quite the analysis from a defeat in which Sunderland played very defensively and found themselves back at the foot of the table

Strangely though, there looks to be slight progress.

Remember how quickly these viewpoints can change in football, mind.

Maybe we all are a fickle bunch, deep down.

* 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