'Too easy': Sunderland U21s boss Graeme Murty gives frank assessment after manic match against Middlesbrough

Sunderland Under-21s boss Graeme Murty says the team need to take more responsibility after a damaging defeat against Middlesbrough.

“Any game when you score five goals at home you would expect to come away a comfortable winner,” Murty told the Echo following the match.

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“We scored five wonderful goals, contrasted with seven goals that Middlesbrough didn’t have to work very hard for because our individual understanding and execution in defensive situations was awful at times.

Sunderland Under-21s boss Graeme Murty. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“I will defend the guys because I see their work and see their ethic every single day, but I can’t defend some of the things they did in isolated incidents and they were too easy to play against.

“When that happens you get instant feedback, and I didn’t think overall it hurt the lads enough to concede.”

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The result leaves Sunderland’s young side 9th out of 11 teams in Premier League 2, Division 2, with just two league wins from 11 matches.

“We are desperate as a coaching staff to give over responsibility for the game and organisation of the game within the game to the players,” Murty added.

“They keep on talking about understanding what we are doing and how we are trying to affect the game both with and without the ball, and they can do it.

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“There are times when our press is spot on and we put good pressure on, are connected with small spaces and are compact, win possession high.

“When we fall off that level we are looking for leaders on the pitch who are going to drive the standard to maintain that, and currently we’re not there.

“We need to be more vocal than we would like to be to help the guys out.

“I’m far from being a Playstation-type coach and don’t want to be talking to the players all of the time, but some of them currently need that assistance.

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“The sooner we can stop doing that, the better for their development because they need to own the game.”