Wise Men Say: Signs of solidity as Sams’ Cats find a hint of organisation

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Another weekend, another defeat. It could be worse though. This time last year we were sat nursing our collective disappointment after that 8-0 drubbing a Southampton. Things can only get better, right?

Sam Allardyce had won his first game in charge of every Premier League club he’d previously managed. So it seemed fitting that Sunderland are the ones to snatch that record from him.

It fits the “managerial graveyard” narrative.

Nobody is safe from the perils of Sunderland, expect your record to be destroyed. You might as well pop it in the bin on the way into the Academy of Light. It means nothing.

Don’t expect to get anything from the referees either.

Saido Berahino’s goal, in my view, should have been disallowed.

How tall the goalkeeper might be, or how strong he should be or whatever, is not relevant. If you’re trying to take a ball off-balance and somebody jumps straight into your chest it’s probably going to disadvantage you.

Then there’s the handball and the forward kicking the ball from Pantilimon’s hands while he’s on the floor.

Maybe Costel could have punched the ball, but that’s not a very English football way of dealing with that situation.

Punches are often met with derision; he’s a “dodgy keeper” or whatever.

Generally, he’s been very safe when dealing with crosses and it was out of character to see him surrender the ball like that. He’ll know he should have done better, but it’s still a free-kick, in my opinion.

We certainly looked more solid though. This team can defend properly when they’re given the chance and Sam set them up in the right manner. It was an instant improvement organisationally, with some decent first-half performances.

Billy Jones looked decent at left-back, DeAndre Yedlin offered something going forward too. Jordi Gomez was impressive also and saw a lot of the ball during the first 45.

Unfortunately, they just couldn’t get going in that second half. Sam will have to try and balance a side that can offer more going forward, yet gives him the same defensive solidity.

The return of Jeremain Lens and Ola Toivonen should help him in this department.

Dick Advocaat was laboured in his decision-making when it came to changes and games just petered out.

On the contrary, Allardyce was quick to make substitutions at The Hawthorns.

As soon as we conceded, Sam reacted. The game wore on and he went 4-4-2 as they searched for the leveler. It was good to see someone proactive in the dugout.

There were bodies in the box too, but the delivery in to them was frustratingly poor.

We all know what the next game is and we’re all hoping that Sam can repeat the pattern of his predecessors.

However, it would be nice if that started and ended with a victory against Newcastle and Sam actually built something at this football club. There’s not a lot of room left in the graveyard.

The Wise Men Say podcast is available 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.