Sunderland’s owner Ellis Short made points in the programme regarding his investment and the players who have hoovered up so much of it made one of their own on the pitch.
Playing with commitment, if not lashings of skill, Sunderland bustled their way to their first point, against a cleaner, crisper Swansea City.
Keeper, Costel Pantilimon, was Sunderland’s key figure, but Jermain Defoe’s 62nd-minute equaliser and a late rally from Dick Advocaat’s under-pressure team brought respite from the pessimism.
Defoe, from central, rounded off a smart move involving Jeremain Lens and Danny Graham. Starting on the left, Defoe had cut in. His position on the pitch is an issue.
“Jermain has freedom,” Advocaat said, neutralising matters.
“A much better feeling,” was his overall reaction. He claimed Sunderland should have had a penalty.
“But I can live with 1-1.”
Whether it signals the beginning of an upturn remains to be seen. In applauding the team off at half-time, supporters – nearly 40,000 of them – revealed reduced expectations.
Their applause also ignored Swansea’s goal on 45 minutes. Bafétimbi Gomis scored it, running onto a Kyle Naughton pass and dispatching a low shot beyond Pantilimon as Sebastien Coates slid in, late.
The move had been initiated by Andre Ayew, the sharpest outfielder. How impressively he has settled. Had Ayew’s 52nd-minute header not come back off a post, Garry Monk’s expectation was that Swansea would have taken all the points. Pantilimon then made a trio of saves.
Short, who wrote, “I have funded significant shortfalls every season,” after “neglible owner-funding” was not here. But his presence was felt.
Sunderland: (4-4-2) Pantilimon; Jones, Coates, O’Shea, Van Aanholt; Lens (Larsson, 90) M’Vila, Cattermole, Rodwell; Graham (Fletcher, 64), Defoe (Watmore, 85).
Swansea City: (4-4-1-1) Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Ayew, Cork, Shelvey, Montero; Sigurdsson; Gomis (Eder, 76).
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Man of the match: Pantilimon (Sunderland)
Match rating: 4/10Reuse content