Some thoughts from the latest Sunderland surrender for those who can stomach it. Warning: probably not for you if you are looking for positives.
What The Gaffer Said
Following the game, Martin O'Neill gave the now standard retort to a defeat to safc.com.
It was always going to be a difficult game for us.
QPR were buoyed by their win over Southampton last week and we had to counteract that and deal with the swell of euphoria from the crowd, which I thought we did well.
We put ourselves in front and it's a wonder-goal from them to take the game to 2-1.
Sunderland looked the better of the two teams following the break, however, they were unable to carve out ant clear-cut chances to get back into the game.
We have to give QPR credit, but having said that it's extremely disappointing to lose the game.
From the second half onwards we looked as though we were in control of the game and that's the frustrating aspect of it.
When times are tough you're never in control until you see it on the scoreboard.
I thought QPR caused us problems and it was difficult for us. Craig Gardner stuck to the task admirably, as a midfielder playing at full-back - and the same at the other side of the field.
It's a tough old set of fixtures for us between now and the end of the season.
We need to get some points on the board.
The players in the dressing room are disappointed, but we're looking to respond as we have done before.
It's a big game next week.
So... ‘looked decent for a while but couldn't create anything' blah blah blah. ‘Unlucky to concede when and how we did' yadda yadda yadda. ‘Midfielders playing at full back' etc. etc. etc.
I can't help but feel I have heard this all before. What more can we actually say about it?
Don't Worry - David Vaughan Is On The Bench!
I can kind of understand what O'Neill is doing with the squad in terms of numbers. It seems like he is clearing the decks for a major summer overhaul, and I can certainly see the temptation when you have the opportunity to move players on.
However, when just a single injury (James McClean) renders David Vaughan your most attacking option from the bench, then it really is time to accept that you have gone much too far with the gamble.
The squad is seriously hamstrung right now and it didn't need to be. Elmohamady, Wickham, Campbell, and even the likes of Ji and Meyler may not have been especially inspiring but they at least provided something from the bench.
As it is, we just have to pray O'Neill's gamble pays off, because there is literally nothing we can do about it if he has judged it badly.
The Untouchable Under-performing Defence
If there is one area of the team which can be changed around a little, then it is at the back. I would be loath to tinker with a well-drilled and performing back four but that is by no means what we have here.
Kadar Mangane is one name to be frequently called for, and it is difficult to see the harm in trying him. What do we actually have to lose? Being as bad as Titus Bramble is right now is the absolute worse-case scenario.
I am far from a Phil Bardsley fan but he is an option to the manager if he truly is sick of seeing a midfielder at full back. John O'Shea or Carlos Cuellar - again neither an ideal solution - are also options.
The point is, for all we all have our opinions about the options and would all agree none represent a lasting solution, they are at least available to freshen things up and try to tighten up a creaking defence.
Unlucky? Yes And No
In one sense, I guess you could say there was an element of bad fortune about this result. After all, the goals conceded came from one cruel deflection and two superb long distance hits.
Surely, though, if the side were capable of controlling a game or even strangling it these things would not happen with such depressing regularity.
In the last six games the team have been unable to defend well at the back, unable to dictate and stifle from the middle, and unable to carve out many chances in attack. Worried? You bet your life I am. You'd be crazy not to be.