Swansea 4, Sunderland 0: Mark Douglas' match analysis

There is a temptation to survey the latest calamity of Sunderland's disastrous season and reason it can't get much worse

Sunderland were beaten 4-0 by Swansea
Sunderland were beaten 4-0 by Swansea

There is a temptation to survey the latest calamity of Sunderland’s disastrous season and reason it can’t get much worse.

Statistically speaking, that strand of logic would be correct.

No team in Premier League history has managed to accrue such a miserly points tally from their first eight games. Even the woefully inadequate Derby side which ripped the dubious honour of lowest points total for a season from the Black Cats in 2008 had won by this point.

The problem is, with a home derby just six days away and a support growing increasingly restless, Sunderland’s situation can become more critical - and very, very rapidly too.

The ever-present smile remained tatooed to Poyet’s face as he raked over the debris of this latest second- half collapse but there will be no honeymoon for the Uruguyan.

Thanks to the mistakes made by those who employed him, Poyet has been pitched straight in at the deep end of Premier League management.

Even at this stage, asking whether the situation is salvageable seems like a fair question.

Poyet said: “I already knew how big the challenge was and I know what we need to work on. What I don’t know is how quickly it will work.

“I cannot tell people it will work in five days or a month. I hope – I really, really hope – it works very quickly because we cannot lose any more time.”

It was a reasonable summary. Sunderland’s latest humiliation was made all the more worrying by the manner in which it arrived.

Competent for 45 minutes, Poyet must have sensed some kind of opportunity against a nervy Swansea team who had created little.

The atmosphere inside the Liberty Stadium was flat, the backdrop ominous for the home side.

Instead, Michael Laudrup’s half-time instruction to up the tempo created pressure the visitors couldn’t cope with.

Sunderland’s collapse was spectacular and their defeat would have been more damaging but for the superb reflexes of Keiren Westwood.

Along with Lee Cattermole, he was one of only two players to collect credit from another dark day.

Poyet said he “learned something” about his players in the second half.

With respect, he was the only person of a red and white persuasion who did because the problems of this group are long-established.

They concede soft goals (particularly from corners), their second-half effort is rarely good enough and they are worryingly brittle.

There are not enough leaders on the pitch and not enough inspiration in midfield either. Their confidence is shot.

Identifying these problems is easy but, as Poyet acknowledged, coming up with a solution is much more difficult. Within the Sunderland camp, there is a theoryit is the player’s confidence which needs piecing together again.

Poyet added: “Nowadays in football the mental side is key. The managers need to be psychologists.”

However, if confidence is low, the players need to start taking responsibility too.

None wanted to talk to the local media afterwards - a few scurried down the tunnel rather than acknowledging the away supporters who had sat through the tortuous second half.

No doubt they are hurting but they are also underachieving. Seven of their starters had been capped by their countries yet collectively they defended Jonathan De Guzman’s corner with the assurance of a Sunday League team.

De Guzman’s unstoppable second was followed by a desperate lunge by Craig Gardner to give away a penalty, which was converted by Wilfried Bony. Chico Flores’ header completed the rout.

It seems a salient point to make their wage bill last year was recorded at around the £60million mark, double that of Saturday’s opponents.

Some rank errors mean they are where they are.

Phil Bardsley’s return to the side is a case in point. Collectively Sunderland seem to have underestimated both the depth of the feeling about his social media indiscretion and the message his immediate recall sent to supporters whose patience is wearing thin after so much disappointment. To send him out at left-back - in place of the consistently capable Jack Colback - without a detailed mea culpa for apparently revelling in Sunderland’s opening-day defeat was a mistake.

Poyet should have known that and moreover the club should have taken steps to drain some of the toxicity out of the issue.

Presumably the thinking behind Bardsley’s recall is Sunderland’s predicament is so dire they have to use every resource they have.

Despite Poyet’s assertion he had the beating of Nathan Dyer in the first half it was a decision which backfired - and not because of the own goal which started the Cats’ collapse.

Bardsley looked rusty, as you would expect from a player who has only just returned from injury and had a truncated pre-season.

One short pass which put Valentin Roberge under pressure and a clumsy pull (punished by a yellow card) were more typical of a contribution which failed to live up to Poyet’s hype.

Something has gone very wrong at Sunderland for them to be left in this predicament.

Cutting too much too soon has left them with a squad which looks ill-equipped for the battle and the judgement of the club’s all-powerful Director of Football must be questioned when only three of the summer arrivals are deemed good enough to play a part in Poyet’s first game.

Fve were signed by Steve Bruce and there have been three permanent managers since his era. It is hardly a strategy for success. Hardly a strategy at all. Welcome to Wearside Gus!

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