Wise Men Say: Tough ask to balance side, Sam, as Black Cats didn’t even do the basics well

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Another disappointing display ends in another disappointing result. Sound familiar?

We’ve all accepted that, under Sam Allardyce, Sunderland aren’t going to look particularly pretty when on the pitch.

We get that. But come on?

The game plan was evident from early on.

Deep and organised when defending, then, when in possession, look to hit Steven Fletcher with the quick long ball, and get players up and around him to feed off his hold-up play.

In a defensive sense, we were much improved on last week’s performance.

Southampton were inevitably going to create chances with the individual quality they have in their squad, but, apart from a few goal line scuffles and a great save by Pantilimon 15 minutes in to deny Tadic a goal from 10 yards out, we did okay.

In contrast, our play when in possession was arguably the worst we’ve seen so far this season.

Allardyce stated in his post-match interview that the team looked to be playing with fear. I’d even go as far as to suggest that the players looked like they’d been personally castrated by the coaching staff before running out of the tunnel.

In sacrificing Jermain Defoe for a more defensive set-up, the team were always going to be less of a threat going forward.

Sadly, what we witnessed on Saturday in an attacking sense was simply dreadful.

Aimlessly lumping the ball up to Fletcher and watching Virgil Van Dijk win every header was painful to watch.

Apart from Duncan Watmore impressing early in the game with his direct style and willingness to express himself on the ball, I can’t remember thinking “that was good” once. Younes Kaboul was our man of the match in my eyes.

What does that tell you?

We didn’t do the basics well at all. Passing, moving, and showing a desire to receive the ball was absolutely non-existent. Premier League footballers must to do better.

I’ve actually witnessed my Sunday League team enjoy more impressive spells of possession.

It was massively disappointing, and so frustrating to watch as a fan.

Let’s not mention their goal.

Credit must be given to Southampton.

They’re a brilliant footballing side, and have some superb individual talents.

Jordy Clasie, in particular, was outstanding throughout the whole game, in my opinion.

He dictated the midfield with his intelligence and vision on the ball, and was the catalyst in most of Southampton’s impressive build-up play.

Sam Allardyce now has two weeks during the international break to figure out how to field a balanced team which allows us to be as effective going forward as we are defending.

Good luck.

* 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