Yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers was a further nail in the coffin of what has been an abysmal campaign for Sunderland. The most concerning thing about this whole rotten season is that we are sleepwalking towards League One without a shred of fight.
The match at Loftus Road was a match in which we should have gone all out for three points. It looked as though we had this in mind, as Chris Coleman set up with two strikers. This was just what we needed, to have a real go at a side ripe for the taking. Unfortunately, our failure to mount any real attempts whatsoever on the host’s goal meant that a 19th defeat of the season was always on the cards; especially with our fibreglass defence.
Without a doubt this match will mostly be remembered for Jason Steele and his five seconds of madness. When I heard he’d been sent off for hand ball outside the box, I was expecting him to have had his hands down by his side and it could have been even slightly controversial. Yet what I saw was a goalkeeper completely losing his wits. Everything about the incident was comical, from the bounding out of the box and completely misjudging the bounce of the ball to the bizarre attempt to slap the ball away. It was a nailed-on dismissal, and it pretty much ended any chances of us nicking all three points. The only positive to come from this, Steele is now suspended.
There has been plenty of talk about the experience of Lee Cattermole and John O’Shea. Before the season kicked off, I was confident that this pair would be vital in the rebuilding job which would be required at the SoL. Instead, however, both have looked out of their depth in the Championship. Strip away any argument about how they should step up with leadership or use their experience and you’ll be left with two players who are no longer capable footballers. To say they are bang average is an understatement and after poor showings from both once more at QPR it’s clear to see that they will be part of a side which is doing its best to send Sunderland into League One.
To be honest, it looks as though we’ve lost all of the fight. We’re still somehow only four points adrift and there are still 27 to play for, but the manner of the defeats is what makes us appear to be already dead and buried. Take the last two matches; we’ve allowed Villa and QPR to walk away with the points without them even having to break sweat. There’s no fight, there’s no passion and 95% of the squad couldn’t give a damn about the club. The club is running out of matches, but the fans have already run out of faith.