Wise Men Say: Simply the worst, and it must be better at Bolton or League One will loom larger on the horizon

Jake Clarke-Salter is obviously not a left-back. Picture by Frank Reid
Jake Clarke-Salter is obviously not a left-back. Picture by Frank Reid
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This is as low as I can remember feeling as a Sunderland supporter.

That first-half performance served up against Brentford was deplorable; one of the worst I have ever seen.

It was clear from the off that there was only one team going to win the game – Sunderland started the game with no impetus, no aggression and allowed Brentford to take control from the first knockings.

When the first goal came, there cannot have been a single person in the ground who wasn’t expecting it. It got no better and, in truth, Brentford didn’t even bother attacking in the second half. Sunderland were atrocious.

The starting line-up seemed a strange one, with Jake Clarke-Salter at left-back and an evidently struggling Tyias Browning retaining his place in the side.

With Adam Matthews on the bench, albeit perhaps not fully fit, and Bryan Oviedo left out for “tactical reasons”, it felt, and looked, like a back four cobbled together.

Clearly Clarke-Salter is no left back, and with Matthews showing no ill-effects when introduced at half-time it made the decision look even more odd.

There was also a recall for Ethan Robson in central midfield and, for the third game in a row, he failed to impose himself on the match in any way. You have to think he will drop out of the side in weeks to come.

There was barely anything of note attacking wise. In truth, the only player that looked like sparking something was Joel Asoro, as pretty much everything Sunderland offered came through him.

Aside from the odd flash, Aidan McGeady had another one of those games where he served up very little – Sunderland really need him to more.

Up front, Ashley Fletcher seemed disinterested, served up, in all honestly, a terrible performance, and surely Josh Maja comes in for him for the huge game at Bolton tomorrow.

We missed the impact of Lua Lua, and the guile of Ovie Ejaria, so hopefully they can return to the squad as soon as possible, along with Paddy McNair.

I am pretty much ready to concede relegation if we lose to Bolton.

It is such a huge game and we simply cannot afford to give them the three points, because we are in danger of getting cut adrift.

It goes without saying that this is the wrong time to do that.

In terms of the side we pick, Lamine Kone, if fit, has to come in.

People can say what they want about him, but if he is fit, he has to play.

Alongside him, I would go with O’Shea or Clarke-Salter, with Matthews and Oviedo as full-backs.

Robson comes out, as does Fletcher for me, and if we can get Lua Lua fit in time I would be tempted to hand him a start.

We have to beat Bolton.

Maybe it is premature to declare relegation if we lose, but, for me, it feels like it is coming.

Genuinely, it feels like we are sliding towards League One and every time we seem to have a chance to haul ourselves out of trouble, we waste it.

Look at Saturday, no-one else at the bottom won and yet again we fail to take advantage. We’re going to have to start taking these chances; otherwise it is going to be Fleetwood and Bristol Rovers away.

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