There is much, as he admitted, for Mauricio Pochettino to ponder. The direction of his football club for starters, following the resignation of the executive chairman Nicola Cortese last week. That particular analysis, he almost whispered, will happen in the forthcoming weeks. First, there will be a quest for an answer as to how his team did not emerge victorious from a game they so comprehensively controlled.
“I am quite disappointed with a point,” Pochettino said. “We deserved to win the game. We were able to dominate the opposition and create many chances but we need to work on our effectiveness.
“There were many chances we created. We even doubled what they created. Offensively we lacked aggressiveness. In the end we were superior to them but not able to make that in the final result. I want to congratulate the players. The supporters should be proud of them in light of what happened this week.
“We will carry on in the way we have been going. I have received no news or any intention to change what we have been doing. Yes, it is clear we need to analyse many things with the chairwoman. We will see what happens in the transfer window.”
Of more immediate concern was the health of Dejan Lovren and the substitute Gaston Ramirez. Ramirez appeared to be fouled by Wes Brown when he broke through the heart of the Sunderland defence, with the scores tied, in the 84th minute.
As he lay in agony, Craig Gardner and Lovren tangled in a more innocuous challenge at the other end of the field. Both players were eventually carried off on stretchers and Pochettino revealed that they had both gone to hospital.
“We leave with one point and two injuries,” he said. “They’re being taken to hospital and being assessed. You could see they were in a lot of pain on the field. I saw them before they went to hospital and they still looked in a lot of pain.”
That provided a new narrative after a troubled 72 hours for the club. Pochettino admitted he had not had real time to digest the implications of changes. All focus had been on the game, and in that there was justification. Sunderland will not get as lucky as they did yesterday too many times before the end of the season. By the fourth minute they trailed when Jay Rodriguez juggled then volleyed his side ahead. By the 31st minute Lovren had also volleyed past Vito Mannone, from a Steven Davis corner.
“We played really bad,” Gus Poyet said. “It looked really dark. It looked like nothing was right for us. Nothing worked for us. No system, no organisation. No understudying of the game. Everything was wrong for us. We won no 50-50s or got the second ball. We were second best. Then Fabio [Borini] scored and football is incredible, what a goal can do for a team.”
Borini’s goal, taking a cross on his chest before firing past Artur Boruc should probably have been prevented. That was the same story in the 71st minute, when the Saints’ goalkeeper failed to stop a rising drive from Adam Johnson.
“It is a very good point. I am very realistic,” Poyet added. “We are not going to win every game. It is very important we have momentum. We have lost one game in 10. That is not bad for a team at the bottom.”
After the sacking of Roberto de Fanti, the director of football who oversaw a disastrous recruitment policy in the summer, the transfer spotlight falls on Poyet. “The phone will be ringing a little bit more,’” he said. “That is my job. We have targets.”
Sunderland (4-2-3-1): Mannone; Bardsley, Brown, O’Shea, Alonso; Ki, Cattermole (Gardner, 62); Johnson, Larsson (Colback, 63), Borini; Altidore (Fletcher, 72).
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Boruc; Chambers, Fonte, Lovren (Yoshida, 88), Shaw; Davis, Schneiderlin; Cork, Lallana (Ramirez, 74; Ward-Prowse, 87), Rodriguez; Lambert.
Referee: Chris Foy.
Man of the match: Rodriguez (Southampton)
Match rating: 5/10