Always a washout anyway, the vagaries of the fixture list meant that December never looked like being much fun on the football front either – and so it has so far proved.
A worthy performance at Arsenal was still met with defeat. But losing at home to Watford, yet another victory handed to a promoted side with desperately dull supporters, was much worse.
It was a game between two moderate-at-best outfits (I know Watford are seventh, but you won’t persuade me otherwise) in which the wrong team happened to score a goal.
What were Sunderland so frightened of in the first 30 minutes; a half-hour that proved to be irreparably damaging? Was it because Watford had won their previous two games against the assembled might of Aston Villa and Norwich?
The players are advised to examine the issue of why they should be afraid of anyone. This may seem an odd comment to make about a squad currently rummaging in the pit of the Premier League; more so when looking at the next few fixtures.
But next up are Chelsea, who have the combined burdens of being in amazingly poor form while still being firm favourites. Get into them.
A week later it’s Manchester City who, if they play to their potential, will marmalise Sam’s lads.
However, for such a high spending club they have a poor record in recent seasons against Sunderland.
Furthermore, they only limped past Swansea, were well beaten at Stoke and were thrashed by Tottenham and Liverpool. Get into them.
Liverpool are in town two days after that, with Sunderland hoping that they will be as indifferent as they were against West Brom or, better still, as awful as they were against Newcastle. Get into them too.
In the last 11 days Bournemouth and Newcastle have proven that anyone can beat anyone in this madly overrated Premier League.
Sunderland have been fearful in too many games; either because they were facing quality opposition, or because the pressure was intensified because they were up against teams they were “supposed” to beat.
Against Watford, the wrong tactics and wrong team selection (with an honourable mention to a referee with no concept of time-wasting) contributed to another bad day. The manager can rectify these.
It is down to the players to cease worrying about what might go wrong and just play to their full capabilities.