'We could..' Michael Beale defends Sunderland display but explains where they have to improve
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Michael Beale insisted that his Sunderland side did not deserve to lose against Hull City on Friday night but conceded that he has to get more out of his players in the final third.
Hull scored the winner with one of their rare attacks in the second half, Fabio Carvalho's deflected effort from a corner sending Sunderland to their third defeat in a row across all competitions. The Black Cats dominated both possession and territory against a side missing many of their key players, but struggled to turn that play into consistent chances.
Ironically, the one spell of concerted pressure they had in the game came just before Hull City's winner.
"We were the more dominant team in the game but we lacked a cutting edge in the final third," Beale said.
"I think we should do better at times in the final third, and that's on me as the coach to find the solutions to that. I don't want to sound like a broken record but it's an isolated moment in the game where we can do better, but we didn't. Even the way we gave away the corner, it's not great from us and then we have two moments to defend it, and we don't. It's fine margins and the game is kicking us. I think we were the stronger team in the game.
"We started brightly and then the game went through a lull, then at the start of the second we were in the ascendancy again. We get into dangerous areas, we get far more opportunities in the game than Hull did, down the side of the box, 1-v-1s wide. We could be quicker at times, get more players in the box, they're the things that I have to improve. That's on me."
Beale admitted that his side had not forced Hull City's goalkeeper into enough saves over the course of the game, and that he understood the frustration of the home support with what as a game lacking in tempo and quality.
"We didn't work the goalkeeper enough, no," Beale said.
"We get in down the side but then we're picky, we turn out the box at times and we turn down crosses, shots. Maybe if you're a forward or a midfielder in our team attacking the box, you don't know when the ball is coming in.
"At times we play back when we could play forward, certainly. You're trying to drive them on from the side and at times, could our midfielders break lines with their passes? Can we run forward? They're all the things in terms of the speed of our play, we could play quicker for sure.
"These are all the things we need to improve, I don't want to make a mountain out of a situation because out of the two managers tonight, one goes away really pleased but in the bigger picture, I'd rather be manager of Sunderland."
Many Sunderland fans expressed their displeasure with the performance and the head coach at the final whistle, with the mood on Wearside worsening after what has been a bruising month for the club.