We boarded the 08.38 out of Durham, full of anticipation, sprinkled with a bit of self-doubt (well we are Sunderland). The train didn't depart for 10 or so minutes the batteries were flat on the new Azuma, how was I to know this would be a sign of how we were to play.
As we got on the 19.18 (which was 15 minutes late) it again defined the performance, we were late or second best all over the park.
I pride myself on been a balanced level headed bloke, so I have reflected on what I observed and some of my pet hates in football.
Before I begin, I have to say we were beaten by the better side, fair and square. They were better than us all over the park and in an attacking quartet of Toney, Maddison, Eisa and Boyd they had movement, pace and purpose. However, before the confidence from their goal, both sides were poor.
Formation - Jack Ross gets stick from many, and although I think most of it is knee jerk emotional, I do think playing a very right sided player at left back is recipe for disaster. It creates a weak link defensively, when we have the ball and when we attack.
Left Side Cover - To start the season with only one recognized left back is something I know he wants to address, but I also look at the substitution after O'Nien's sending off. Flanagan came on, he is a right sided centre-half or right fullback but against Oxford he was played left side of a three. If I can see it, I am certain opposing scouts and dugouts can.
Bench Options - Two defenders, three midfield players and one striker - no game changers.
Flat Battery - You cannot blame the manager for everything, sometimes if not all the time players need to take responsibility, if the formations and tactics are down to Jack, the implementation of such is down to the players and to a man not one of them was at it today.
Two up Top - I will love to see Wyke and McNulty in full flow, let’s persevere.
We Didn't Draw - If we get beat eight times and win eight times rather than sixteen draws, we will go up.
It’s Been Coming For a Long Time - We should have had that done to us a few times last season, let’s hope it’s the kick up the proverbial we need or someone reboots the battery.
My Pet Hate - Spineless, no courageous integrity officials - Toney fouls, ref pulls out a card and Toney makes the ref walk 15 or so yards to give him the card, that moment of weakness typified the ref, gave Toney the advantage psychologically over the ref and thus every time after that he made Sunderland players suffer for his own weakness. Wouldn't change the outcome but it shows me once more that at this level the standard of officiating is poor.
What’s all this on Social Media - Ross out, shouldn't change a winning team after Burnley. Facts are we are sixth, in the next round of the league cup and have lost one game all season. We changed a winning team after every game and after Wimbledon before Burnley.
Before we throw the baby out with the bath water, let’s breathe a little, there is a long way to go.
I am certain that Jack would love a settled side and to know who his best eleven is but I also certain as per my chats on the train home there is not a consensus among ourselves.