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Sunderland: Jermain Defoe once again let Alex Neil down vs Crewe

With Alex Neil’s Sunderland heading into Saturday’s League One clash with Crewe Alexandra on a run of four games without defeat, the Black Cats manager would undoubtedly have been hoping for yet another positive result in order to keep the club’s promotion push alive.

While it was far from the most convincing performance against a team rooted to the bottom of the table, two late strikes from Daniel Neil and Patrick Roberts just about got the Mackems over the line against David Artell’s outfit, with Sunderland running out 2-0 winners at the Stadium of Light.

However, as is perhaps to be expected after such a hard-fought battle against a side who look certain to be playing their football in League Two next season, there were a number of below-par performances on display in the Black Cats’ ranks, with Lynden Gooch and Jermain Defoe two of the more notable disappointments.

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While it is undeniable that Gooch was well of the pace against Crewe, it will undoubtedly have been the performance of Defoe which will have concerned Neil the most on Saturday afternoon, as the 39-year-old was completely anonymous in the Sunderland attack.

Two passes completed

Indeed, over the course of his 63 minutes on the pitch, the £360k-rated centre-forward was a complete passenger, having just seven touches of the ball – 26 fewer than Anthony Patterson between the Sunderland sticks – completing a mere two of his five attempted passes, taking no shots at the Crewe goal, ceding possession of the ball on five separate occasions and committing two fouls.

These returns saw the former England international earn a disappointing SofaScore match rating of just 6.5, ranking him as Neil’s second-worst starter on the day.

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The veteran forward’s return to the Stadium of Light may have appeared a sentimental move at the time, but considering that Defoe is yet to find the net over his six League One outings since his January switch back to Wearside, exactly what the club thought the 39-year-old would bring to the current Sunderland side is something of a mystery.

Indeed, if the striker turned in this level of performance against a side who are rooted to the bottom of the table, there would not appear to be much hope for him firing the Black Cats to promotion this season against the teams around Sunderland in the play-off chase.

AND in other news: Sunderland must now unleash 21 y/o with “persistence” and “effortless” natural ability

Article title: Sunderland: Jermain Defoe once again let Alex Neil down vs Crewe

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