IN the wake of his side’s failure to beat 10-man Norwich City, Martin O’Neill was as subdued as he has been all season in his post-match Press conference.
Such distraction is usually a sign his mind is preoccupied with analysis of a difficult game or a worrying defeat.
Occasionally it seems to indicate he is just as annoyed with his players as Sunderland’s supporters are when the team has failed to produce.
And certainly, yesterday, the manager was quick to acknowledge that he was as disappointed as anyone that his team could not overcome reduced opposition over the course of a whole 45 minutes
“Our second-half performance was very disappointing,” he said.
“With the extra man, we should have tried to made it count and it was frustrating for the number of chances we didn’t create as much as for what we did.
“That was very disappointing because we had had time to settle down at half-time, compose ourselves, and go again.
“We had enough time to try to break them down but we were not successful
“And when we did get into good positions Michael Turner must have cleared three out of the six-yard box when there should have been someone there to put pressure on him.
“We just didn’t do enough in that second half to win the game.
“Were we inhibited in our play?
“Given the run we’ve had at the moment, confidence is a bit low even among the most creative players so, yes, I think it’s fair to say our performance was inhibited.”
O’Neill’s mood was not improved either by knowledge that the key decisions had all gone his side’s way.
“I haven’t seen the replays but I’ve been assured that we’ve had a bit of luck with the Danny Rose handball and that the other two decisions – the sending off of the Norwich keeper and the awarding of a penalty in our favour – were correct,” he said.
It would not have improved the manager’s mood to know that with all the good fortune going their way in terms of the official’s decisions, Sunderland had no-one but themselves to blame for failing to gain a league victory at the seventh time of asking.