Saturday’s 2-2 draw at fellow strugglers Reading was the third match in a row in which Sunderland have taken the lead but failed to claim all three points. These latest dropped points look set to be the most-costly so far, however...
For the third time this season, we have a candidate for the worst ever keeper to play for Sunderland. Lee Camp’s inability to do his job would, if we had a more competent replacement, see him dropped immediately. Unfortunately, recalling Jason Steele won’t change a great deal. Watching a clip of Camp letting the softest of shots trickle out of his grasp and then clumsily bringing down an opposition player was the least enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon, not that goalkeeping mistakes are uncommon this season.
At a rough estimate, we must have lost at least 10-15 points through poor goalkeeping. Without looking at points, we’d be out of the drop three and perhaps with a win against Burton we’d practically be safe with those points.
In less than 12 months we’ve sold £30m+ worth of goalkeepers and replaced them with two players who seemingly became goalkeepers by collecting limited edition crisp packets. We’ve had a proud recent history of having good goalkeepers; but that along with much of the club’s dignity has gone well and truly out of the window.
In fact, all three goalkeepers to play for us this campaign have given away points. When Robin Ruiter gifted Millwall two goals back in October, yes it was frustrating but let’s be honest back then we were not expecting to be looking at the league table in April and seeing Sunderland propping up the Championship.
The most concerning part about Lee Camp being at the club is that Simon Grayson can’t be blamed for signing him. Then again, no one can. Chris Coleman must have looked at highlights of Steele and Robin Ruiter and thought no keeper could be worse; apparently Camp has seen that as a challenge.
Our inability to see out matches has seen us drop to the foot of the table, that and Burton’s eye-brow raising three points against Derby. It’s a shame really; if we had more of a chance of survival then next week’s visit of Burton would have been a huge match. Of course, for as long as it’s still possible for us to survive it will be huge, but the fact that a defeat at the Stadium of Light could confirm relegation (other results pending) shows how far behind we really are.
The draw v Reading was even more frustrating as the rest of the side did more than enough to win, two very basic errors from an apparent experienced and professional goalkeeper has pushed Sunderland further to the brink. A defeat to a Burton, whose spirits will be through the roof after beating Derby, will see relegation all but confirmed. We’ve had three chances in a week to chalk up much needed victories, poor defensive performers have confirmed that we are well and truly architects of our own continuing downfall.