Onside: Soft-centred Sunderland fighting for Premier survival

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It is official.

Sunderland are in the relegation fight for survival that many fans thought would be long gone when Martin O’Neill arrived at the club.

Walking away from the Stadium of Light, disappointed and uninspired by the 1-1 draw against Norwich, I was asked: “Who should we buy in the summer?”

I answer this same question every time we get close to a transfer window but I cannot see us attracting top players to pull us out of the situation we seem to find ourselves in year in, year out.

O’Neill has had three windows since taking charge and that means he has had the time to make his mark on the Sunderland team.

In my opinion, there is no strong core to our side, unlike in the better sides in the Premier League.

We have a make-shift defence in the first place but then John O’Shea and Carlos Cuellar are not good enough anymore.

At the centre of the midfield on Sunday afternoon were Sebastian Larsson and David Vaughan - one of which is playing out of position and the other not strong enough for the physical battle.

This just proves how much we miss our leader in Lee Cattermole and how important he is to Sunderland’s success.

Up front, Steven Fletcher has been magnificent but Danny Graham has been presented with chances to score and he is still yet to put the ball in the net in a red and white shirt.

So the question that should be asked on leaving the Stadium of Light, as we enter the final eight games of a frustrating campaign, is: “Are we good enough to stay up?”

And judging by the way that we played in the last few outings you have to say “no”.

If O’Neill thinks we can coast along and do all we can to secure a draw in every game then survive, he is sadly wrong.

The fans won’t stand for it and if we go down, the owner won’t stand for it.

The last eight games are very important now and I think two wins are crucial, even more so if they come against Aston Villa (away) and Southampton (home).

We need to go all out for the win and that means making attacking substitutions, not bringing a midfielder or defender on for a striker.

If he is going to give Connor Whickham 10 minutes at the end of a game, it is not enough.

Graham doesn’t do enough and it doesn’t seem to be working for him, so far so why not try the young lad from the start and see how he does?

On paper we have a very talented side full of youthful and hungry players but at the minute we look like we are going through the motions, wishing for the end of the campaign.

The only thing that Sunderland fans can do now is support the team, like we have for years, and hope that the players on the field are doing their bit to help us to another season of Premier League football.

Ha’way the lads.

- Martin Dunn