Sunderland fans have become painfully attuned to jaw-dropping defensive collapses.
There were the eight at tomorrow’s opponents Southampton, the four’s against Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Leicester, and then last weekend’s entrant at Everton.
I think it’s a question of both personnel and disciplineSam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce is less used to being hit for six, particularly after his defensive work on the training ground appeared to have produced shoots of improvement in his opening two games in charge.
“I don’t accept that we should ever get beat six again,” said Allardyce after spending two days coming to terms with the shock of last week’s harrowing second half at Goodison Park.
Allardyce has built his reputation on well-organised, resilient sides and Sunderland were anything but on Merseyside.
It was as uncharacteristic a performance from an “Allardyce side” as could be imagined.
But while Sunderland’s makeshift central defensive trio of Sebastian Coates, full-back Billy Jones and game-shy Wes Brown were ripped apart by Everton front pair Romelu Lukaku and Arouna Kone, Allardyce isn’t just pointing a finger at those three.
He believes the pattern which has seen Sunderland ship 25 goals in the opening 11 Premier League outings stems from far more than the centre-halves.
Allardyce said: “The ultimate wasn’t the defence. It was the players in front doing what they want and giving them no protection.
“When all’s said and done, they scored the fourth goal with two passes. There was only Wes Brown and Seb Coates to do anything against the quickest player in their team (Lukaku).
“That shows the lack of discipline we had.
“I think it’s a question of both personnel and discipline.
“But the first thing we have to do is cut out the silly mistakes.
“More goals are scored from capitalising on mistakes, than creating, at this level.
“That’s the first thing to do and then it’s playing as a team, in possession and out of possession.”
The injury absences of first-choice central defenders John O’Shea and Younes Kaboul led Allardyce to debut a new 3-5-2 system, with his options further thinned by Fabio Borini and Ola Toivonen being sidelined.
“I wouldn’t have gone three at the back if we could have put out the same team as against Newcastle,” he said.
“Even though we gave Newcastle far too much space, we only conceded two clear-cut chances.
“But the personnel we had for Everton, their front line is the main strength – Lukaku, Kone, Gerard Deulofeu, Aaron Lennon, Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley, Steven Pienaar.
“They’ve got an abundance of creative front-line players.
“I thought the back five coped with it pretty well for 60 minutes, but then...
“I don’t know the squad that well yet, so maybe not having John O’Shea, Ola, Fabio and Younes was the difference. Maybe.
“Maybe we wouldn’t have won, but we wouldn’t have lost 6-2.”