ONSIDE: Sunderland’s league focus after FA Cup exit

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That’s it for another year then.

The old cliché of ‘we’ll concentrate on the league’ was muttered between disappointed Sunderland supporters once again after the defeat to Bolton Wanderers.

But that isn’t good enough.

As I’ve been reminded by a colleague, Middlesbrough are the only North-East team who remain in the competition, for another game at least after the draw was extremely kind to them.

And we weren’t in the cup for longer than Newcastle, just in the hat longer due to a replay.

An FA Cup run that last year ended at Everton, and possibly could have done the same this year, was the main highlight of that campaign.

The cup gives Sunderland fans something to shout about and should be treated with an equal amount of commitment as the league.

I only say this because I feel that we are now looking like a mid-table side and not really fighting for anything any more.

Not for a European place or survival, leaving us just going through the motions from mid-March onwards.

So something to brighten up the season would have been nice, but unfortunately all we got was a third-round defeat.

However, it is great to see captain Lee Cattermole coming back strongly and he should be back in the side as soon as possible.

Also, Martin O’Neill is playing his cards right in the transfer market with moves for big and powerful players that we have lacked for a lot of years now.

Hopefully a few more signings to make our defence a bit more solid would be good because, to be fair, we don’t need another striker if O’Neill is to continue with a lone forward and Stephane Sessegnon in behind.

Fraizer Campbell and Connor Whickham are both good enough to come on and make a difference in the attack if Steven Fletcher is not fit, so all in all we aren’t in bad shape really.

So now, with no cups to worry about, we can concentrate on finishing as high as possible.

And that should be in the top 10.

- Martin Dunn