Wise Men Say: Surely it’s time to give Joel Asoro a Sunderland start

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Well, well, well. Back to square one?

Probably not quite, but what an anti-climax that turned out to be.

In typical Sunderland fashion, we managed to take the real buzz and positivity that was apparent around the place, and lose 3-1 at home to Reading.

Reading are another addition to the worryingly long list of poor teams to beat us at the Stadium of Light.

Everything seemed to be under control.

Far from the gung-ho opening spells we would have under Simon Grayson, we settled into the game keeping possession and, while we created little in the first half, we were rarely threatened by Reading.

The game appeared to be there for Sunderland to take in the second half, a bit like at Burton last week; but then it all changed in the third minute of injury time.

Adam Matthews chipped a cross over the keeper, and Callum McManaman seemed to have given us the lead right before the break.

What a time to take the lead. Well, no, actually, as he had handled it into the net and was duly sent off, totally changing the outlook of the second half.

Sunderland were never really in the game after half-time and everything went pretty flat.

Three poor goals were given away making sure of another defeat, and there were plenty of worrying signs including the performances in central midfield.

Despite this, there was at least one bright spot we can take from the game.

Joel Asoro sparked something upon his introduction and arguably saved us from a heavier defeat; his attacking play meant we did at least spend some time on the front foot late on.

As well as winning a penalty for Grabban to convert, he was unlucky a couple of times not to get on the scoresheet himself.

Asoro can hold his head high and his confidence must be soaring after the impact he made – for the third week in a row.

His fearless attitude is a breath of fresh air and that is now assists in consecutive games.

Maybe now it is time to look at giving Asoro a start.

The wingers (McGeady and McManaman) were extremely poor against Reading, and McGeady, in particular, has looked off the pace for several weeks.

I know starting games is a whole new ball game, but Asoro has made a real impact now against Villa, Burton and Reading, so it’s not as if Saturday was his first game.

It is unfor-tunate that the next game is away at leaders Wolves as it probably isn’t the best for him to make his first league start, based on the way Sunderland may have to set up.

After that, we face Fulham and Birmingham at home, and I would be targeting those games for Asoro, and Josh Maja, if he can recapture his pre season form, to make a real impact from the start.

I still think we will be OK. Coleman will see us right and, in my opinion, as the season goes on, Maja and Asoro could play pivotal roles.

* 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