Win Over Geordies A One-Off? I Think Not!
I know the defeat at Hull will be taken on the result rather than the performance, but 9 men again 11 for 45 minutes and seeing it out without conceding a goal deserves a lot of credit.
Some are asking, was Sunderland's victory over Newcastle United a mere blip in an otherwise relentless downward charge to the Championship?
Well 'm not so sure. The Hull defeat could have been a lot worse, altghough seeing the goalkeeper injured, and two players facing three games out because of red cards, has left its mark.
Otherwise it was precisely the sort of game from which one point should be considered the minimum requirement.
Forget, for now, the top six candidates littering Sunderland's early fixtures list; Sunderland have also played two of the newly promoted teams, and lost each time.
The injuring to Keiren Westwood, replaced in Sunderland's goal by Vito Mannone, is probably the main concern.
Losing Lee Cattermole and Andre Dossena will still be a big blow.
Both sendings-off on Saturday resulted from poor challenges on former Sunderland players, and the only serious debate is whether Cattermole's foul on Ahmed Elmohamady might have been more of a yellow card offence than red.
No such defence can be offered for Andre Dossena's ugly assault, minutes later, on David Meyler.
The two bosses divided on predictable lines. Bruce thought Cattermole did what players can no longer get away with, and deserved to go.
Gus Poyet's disagreed: "I'm convinced he didn't deserve the red card. I think sometimes people see Lee Cattermole make a challenge and it is not allowed because people put things in the minds of other people. We need to be fair to him."
But the fact remains than the midfielder knows better than anyone that it is his atrocious record of indiscipline that makes him a marked man for card-happy officials.
Hasn't he been telling us that he is a changed man who has learned from past errors?
Yet not for the first time in this game, he surrendered possession and committed his foul as a reaction to his own frustration.
Defeat leaves Poyet back where he seemed to be before the Wear-Tyne derby.
That 2-1 win over Newcastle not only lifted Sunderland off the bottom, but briefly raised spirits among fans who, it must be said, were magnificent in their encouragement at Hull.
Those who saw it out were at least given a heartening second half in which Sunderland were close once or twice to producing an equaliser and Hull City were bizarrely reduced to time-wasting against nine men as the final whistle approached.
The depleted team had made a much better job of matching Hull than the 11 who started.
But one win and one draw from 10 Premier League games is undeniably the stuff of relegation. Worse, it is the stuff of relegation at some distance from safety.
Sunderland's season currently threatens to yield fewer points than the 11 Derby County mustered in 2008. And guess whose record Derby had to beat to establish themselves as the worst side in top flight history? If your answer was Sunderland, you were right -- not just once but twice ending seasons with record lows, 19 in 2003 and 15 three years later.
Poyet came away with no points, just damage limitation.
Yet another defeat, and against opposition that will probably struggle in the second half of the season, makes survival look bleakly improbable.
Wednesday November 619:45 League Cup - 4th RndSunderland v Southampton
Sunday November 1014:05 Premier LeagueSunderland v Manchester City
Saturday November 2315:00 Premier LeagueStoke City v Sunderland
Saturday November 3015:00 Premier LeagueAston Villa v Sunderland
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