Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Match analysis: Crystal Palace 3 Sunderland 1
FOR Paolo Di Canio and Sunderland, the honeymoon is officially over.
For all the anticipation and excitement generated by the Italian’s arrival and his subsequent squad overhaul, the reality is the Black Cats have won just two of the ten league games under their new leader, despite the fact he continues to talk up his ability as a Premier League manager.
He might have captivated Wearside with his straight talking, hard-line approach and promises to lead a revolution at the Stadium of Light, but after a second defeat in their opening three games against newly promoted Crystal Palace, it’s time the talking stopped.
Patience already seems to be wearing thin with some sections of fans and the longer Di Canio keeps slating his players in public and dodging any responsibility for results, the more he will alienate himself from those he needs support from the most.
As the saying goes; ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, and with 12 new signings to settle in things were never going to fall into place straightaway, but even after such a short space of time the new era on Wearside has a worryingly uncomfortable feel about it.
The same problems Sunderland had under Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill were evident at Selhurst Park with the Wearsiders failing to put their hosts under any real pressure in the final third.
Creativity continues to elude them, while at the back they still look vulnerable – particularly from set pieces - but even if Di Canio was let down by some of his players in south London, the Black Cats lacked strategy and direction.
The 3-1 defeat courtesy of goals from Danny Gabbidon, Dwight Gayle and Stuart O’Keefe means Sunderland go into the international break with a solitary point on the board despite being handed a generous start by the fixture computer.
The goalscoring return of Steven Fletcher was the only real positive Sunderland could take from their trip to Palace and with Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool coming up after the two-week break, Di Canio’s words need to start translating onto the field.
John O’Shea, Connor Wickham and Ji were all singled out by Di Canio in his post-match assessment of the game – the defender’s costly mistake leading to Palace’s second and a red card, while the two strikers did little to suggest they can lead the line.
Those that headed straight off on international duty will count themselves lucky, while those who will remain on Wearside in the next two weeks will inevitably feel the wrath of Di Canio.
Fletcher, whose presence immediately changed Sunderland’s threat up field, will be one of those staying behind as he continues to work on his match fitness following five months on the sidelines, and the Scottish international admits the squad doesn’t deserve any time off after their poor start to the campaign.
“I don’t think we’ll be getting any time off. I don’t think we deserve it. We need to get back in and correct what went wrong against Crystal Palace,” the striker admitted.
“We have got a lot of new faces, but we had a good pre-season and went away together so I think we know each other now. We just need to bring that onto the pitch and get some good results.
“We’ll sit down and have a look at our performance and the gaffer will look at what went wrong. But we need to know that set pieces are big in the Premier League and we will get punished if we fall asleep.
Jason Puncheon feels the full force of Sunderland’s Emanuele Giaccherini’s challenge
“We have tough games to come. Every game is tough in the Premier League so we know that and the new boys do as well. We’ll get our heads down in training this week and take that into Arsenal.
“He (Di Canio) was disappointed. We wanted to come and win so we’re all disappointed. But we’ve got international break now so we’ll sit down and take a look at it.
“We wanted to put the first half against MK Dons behind us and take the momentum from the second half but it just didn’t happen.”
The Black Cats once again started sluggishly and conceded their third goal from a set piece in as many games when Gabbidon got on the end of Jose Campana’s corner.
Having hauled Ji off at half time after the striker failed to go for a free header yards in front of goal, Di Canio did get a response with Fletcher giving the South Korean a lesson in finishing when he headed in from Jack Colback’s cross.
At that stage the Black Cats looked in good shape, but O’Shea’s failure to deal with a routine ball forced the defender to bring Gayle down in the box with the young striker putting his side back in front from the spot.
Palace made it three in the dying moments when Sunderland failed to deal with Jason Puncheon’s run along the edge of the area leaving O’Keefe to hit a first-time curling effort past Keiren Westwood.
Comments are closed on this article.