Sunderland boss says experienced players may need a break from struggles

Lee Cattermole in action for Sunderland against Reading.
Lee Cattermole in action for Sunderland against Reading.

Chris Coleman admits he may have to take some of his experienced players out of the firing line after yet another home failure.

The Black Cats imploded in 18 disastrous second-half minutes against Reading on Saturday after Callum McManaman was sent off for deliberate handball just before the break.

Sunderland’s senior cohort underwhelmed again as the likes of George Honeyman and Joel Asoro impressed, and Coleman believes the youngsters are benefiting from not having to cope with the same level of pressure.

He said: “Maybe I might give one or two (of the experienced ones) a rest from it all.

“The pressure situation they find themselves in. I thought the kids did quite well – there’s less pressure on them because less is expected of them.

“They definitely gave us a little bit of energy and played with less fear.

“We got into one or two situations where I expected a bit more offensively. We need to be more positive in those situations.

“I don’t think we were positive enough and that was probably down to lacking a bit of belief. [There was] less belief than I saw last week, but that was away from home.”

Coleman praised Asoro again after the substitute forced a penalty that allowed Lewis Grabban to net a consolation goal.

He said: “He has done well. He did well away at Burton and he did well today. He plays without fear. Sometimes when you are young, that happens.

“Sometimes it’s more difficult for the older ones who are experience and are expected to take the responsibility.

“Sometimes bringing a young player on brings fresh impetus, fresh legs, no fear. That’s what he has done in the last few games.”

The Stadium of Light crowd was left frustrated in the second half as Sunderland struggled to build pressure against Reading’s possession-based approach.

Coleman said he understood the mood around the ground and took responsibility for the second goal which effectively ended the game as a contest.

He said: “Before we kicked a ball, I said this would be the hardest one for us, because of the way the opposition play.

“People probably thought, after last week, we’d be on the front foot, all-out attack, but we’d probably have lost 3-1 with 11 men because Reading want you to do that.

“We had to be clever and cute. We’ve got to be better when adversity comes our way and we’ve got to learn how to suffer a bit better than we did.

“I totally understand the atmosphere – there’s only me and us who can change that.

“I understood it [fans’ anger], totally.

“You’ve got to feel sorry for the fans as well.

“Even if they boo for 90 minutes, they’re still here. They still show up so that’s how I look at it.

“They are the fans we’ve got at the moment and we’ve got to try and look after them, and it’s only us who can do that and change the mood.

“Up until the sending off, it was OK, but we’ve got to do better when it goes against us.

“You can’t be so downhearted and downbeat that you lose the grip of a game.

“The second goal was my fault. I changed the shape, wanting to go a bit more offensive and they scored immediately.

“That’s how it goes sometimes.”