Let Wigan have him, striker sums up dire Sunderland show & 4 more morning-after Barnsley thoughts

Dunno about you, but yesterday's lack-lustre showing at the Stadium of Light has drained what little enthusiasm I had left for watching Sunderland. We're used to being awful but there wasn't a single positive to take from that defeat at the hands of Barnsley.

Despite the optimism ahead of the game that 2018 would surely herald better days at the Stadium of Light, same-old Sunderland plumbed new depths with a desperately poor showing against Barnsley. It's difficult to find any chinks of light from that performance. 

Here's our morning-after thoughts on Sunderland 0 Barnsley 1. 

James Vaughan just isn't good enough

So this is hardly 'new' news but James Vaughan summed up exactly why club and player would be better to cut their losses and part company in January. The summer signing from Bury was truly woeful yesterday and whilst he was isolated somewhat up front for spells, the 29-year-old did actually play the entire second half with a striker alongside him in Josh Maja. 

If Vaughan managed to win a single header or a battle with an opposing centre-back, then I must have missed it. He just doesn't read the game quickly enough for this level and constantly misjudges his positioning or the intent of those trying to play the ball to him. 

Sunderland had 11 shots yesterday, Vaughan - leading the line remember - managed one all game, and even then it was a scuffed effort off the back of a throw-in. Truly terrible and his all-round play is simply infuriating to watch. 

Sticking with 5 at the back come what may?

With Marc Wilson missing, Chris Coleman stuck resolutely with a five-man defence - at home, against a side who hadn't won in 11 games. Playing three centre-halves has worked, when Sunderland have had three centre-halves available. They didn't yesterday - and although youngster Tom Beadling was on the bench, he has yet to make his first senior start. 

Sticking your 'best' wing-back from recent games, Adam Matthews, in at centre-back seemed a curious decision. Such a ploy would have been hailed as genius had it come off but it's doubtful the Welshman has ever played in the middle of a defence before. Still, Coleman abandoned the starting system at half time after it became clear Bryan Oviedo was being tortured at left-back and the whole thing wasn't working. 

Could really do with signing a central midfielder this week

With a relegation battle still to fight, few on Wearside will probably shed a tear if Sunderland exit the FA Cup next week at the hands of Middlesbrough. It'll be a nice day out for the 4,500 fans heading down the A19 and beating local rivals is never a bad thing. 

But with Darron Gibson likely to be out for a while and no sign of Lee Cattermole or Didier Ndong any time soon, the only available player who can play a 'holding' role in central midfield next week will be the still unfit Paddy McNair. 

Signing a central midfielder is absolutely crucial in the January transfer window and it would be a bonus to have one in this week to give him the cup game to bed in. We can but hope. 

Passive, pedestrian, pace-less and passionless

For what seems an eternity, the Sunderland squad has been made up of the slow-paced, the one-paced, the passive, the pedestrian and the passionless. 

There wasn't one of them out there yesterday who could compete with Barnsley for pace, strength, height or aggression. Anyone who has ever watched a few games in the Championship knows what this league is like but the Black Cats were unprepared for the nature of football in England's second-tier and continue to be so. 

Indeed, Sunderland appeared startled by Barnsley coming out of the blocks strong and right up in the faces of the home side. That really should not be happening after half a season in this league. The Black Cats were too deep and applied too little pressure further up the field - as has been so often the case in recent years. 

Bringing in some speed, aerial ability in midfield / up front, some physical prowess or some fight will likely cost money in the transfer window but without a smattering of each, Sunderland will continue to look like relegation fodder until the season end. 

Remarkably tolerant set of home fans

Some continue to remark that the Sunderland support have become increasingly antagonistic with the players in a red-and-white shirt as the woeful run of home form has continued. But the home fans were remarkably patient as they watched yet another poor performance yesterday. 

Support was dutifully doled out on the odd occasion the Black Cats performed a decent passage of play and it was really only at the end of a thoroughly frustrating afternoon that any exasperation began to show. 28,000 was the attendance figure given, remarkable given the utter dross served up. Many of us wandered away muttering that we've had enough and don't much fancy going back - and whilst most of us will, thousands continue to stay away and some will give up this season without a wholesale improvement.  

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