SUNDERLAND SUFFERING FROM MENTAL BLOCK

The main reason for the poor form of Sunderland has to be their “mental” block.

Keeper Simon Mignolet has revealed the winless run and tumble down the table has become a burden, and that the squad is “down” about the bad form. Now many Sunderland fans have even started placing free bets against the team, so they are happy either way!

The Belgian No1, a rare performer is convinced Sunderland can achieve their hopes of a top ten finish or better, but a revival must start at Birmingham this weekend.

Mignolet, who has stakes a strong claim to keep injured Craig Gordon out of the first team, admitted: “Mentally, it is not easy to cope with what’s happening.

“At the start of the season, everything was going well and everyone was happy. We were winning games and scoring goals whereas suddenly, we cant do that anymore. It’s not easy because everyone in the squad is down.

MUNTARI COULD BE ATTACKING

John Mensah has said that Sulley Muntari could take up an attacking role in the midfield after adapting to the return to the Premier League.

On-loan Muntari has been used as a holding midfielder for his first three games for the Black Cats with tough-tackling duo Lee Cattermole and David Meyler still sidelined through injury.

After a bright debut at Stoke, the ex-Portsmouth player has endured a mixed time in his subsequent two outings with Bruce withdrawing the 26-year-old for the final 15 minutes of Saturday’s defeat at Everton.

Muntari is yet to rediscover his match fitness after only enduring a bit-part role at parent club Inter Milan this season.

And Mensah insists his Ghanaian team-mate may find more joy playing in the advanced role he enjoys for his country.

GORDON NEEDING CONFIDENCE

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has said that goalkeeper Craig Gordon needs confidence more than anything else. Bruce was unhappy with the £9million Scotland international’s role in Tottenham’s first-half equaliser on Saturday as his side slipped to a 2-1 English Premier League defeat at the Stadium of Light.

Michael Dawson’s header went through his legs and, although he may have been unsighted by William Gallas in front of him, Gordon’s manager felt he should have done better.

The 28-year-old had suffered a difficult afternoon at Stoke a week earlier as the home side twice came from behind to win 3-2.

Bruce said: “It’s simply down to confidence which is a big thing and it’s not quite happening for him.

“We were disappointed with the first goal – I am sure Craig Gordon is, like everybody else – but these things happen with the goalkeeper.

SUNDERLAND SIGN SESSEGNON

Sunderland have signed Paris St Germain midfielder Sessegnon for a fee reported to be in the region of £ 6 million. The Black Cats paid £6m for the 26-year-old international, who has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal.

“The transfer has been long and the execution tough but I am very happy,” Sessegnon told the club website.

“I want to thank chairman Niall Quinn, manager Steve Bruce and assistant boss Eric Black for all the support they’ve shown me.”

Sessegnon began his career playing club football in Benin before moving to French second division side Creteil.

MILIBAND TO JOIN SUNDERLAND

Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband could become the new secretary of Sunderland after he is in talks with the club. The defeated Labour leadership contender is in discussions with Sunderland over a non-executive post.

He would focus on international and community work, a club spokesman said.

Mr Miliband was also reported to have pitched TV ideas to the BBC and is set to become a volunteer politics teacher at his local school in North London.

Sunderland have also been linked to moves for Owen Hargreaves and Denilson.

BRUCE CRITICISES SCHEDULE

Steve Bruce has criticised the Premier league schedule as being ridiculous. Nedum Onuoha, Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan were all injured in the Black Cats’ 2-0 home defeat by Blackpool.

Bruce says it is “nonsense” that his players should face five games in eight days and he now wants a winter break.

“Every country in Europe does it,” he said. “We should be taking a break too, there should be a break here.”

Bruce’s sentiments were echoed on Tuesday by West Ham manager Avram Grant following his side’s 1-1 draw against Everton.

Sunderland have been linked with bids for Shaun Wright-Phillips and Adam Johnson in the January transfer window.

BRUCE PLEASED WITH DRAW

Steve Bruce has said that he is happy with Sunderland’s draw with Fulham. Bruce took on his former Manchester United team-mate Mark Hughes, but neither boss could mastermind a win amid a dire stalemate of few chances.

The Black Cats, who have won just once away from home this season, move up to sixth in the Premier League with the point and Bruce is embracing the positives.

“I think you’re always delighted to pick up a point away from home and I couldn’t fault the effort and determination, considering the changes we had to make defensively,” he told Sky Sports.

Fabio da Silva and Nicklas Bendtner have been linked to the club in the January transfer window.

SUNDERLAND DEFEATED

A poor Sunderland side were defeated against an impressive Wolves side. It spared the Wolves chairman the embarrassment of calling McCarthy to account only days after allowing the chief executive Jez Moxey to respond to unhappy fans by reaffirming their backing for their under-fire employee.

With 13 minutes left, Danny Welbeck headed Sunderland in front, diverting Phil Bardsley’s cross wide of Hennessey. But, as McCarthy never tires of repeating, Wolves can seldom be faulted for effort. Sunderland lost their composure at the back and when a Jarvis cross was headed back across goal by Elokobi, Gordon could not save cleanly and the substitute Stephen Hunt forced home his first Wolves goal.

Then Ebanks-Blake, introduced with only 10 minutes to provide belated support for the tireless Kevin Doyle, did what he does best and bought time for his manager, dealing Sunderland only a second defeat in 13 games. “If I had been wearing a heart monitor it would have made interesting reading,” McCarthy said. “They put me through it but as usual they gave me every last drop of effort.”

BENT HAILS SUNDERLAND SPIRIT

Darren Bent has hailed the spirit of the Sunderland team after they game back from a goal down to draw against Arsenal. The Black Cats have made a steady yet unspectacular start to the 2010/11 campaign, taking six points from their opening five games.

The latest of those came against high-flying Arsenal on Saturday, as a last-gasp leveller earned them a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw. Bent proved to be the hero of the hour on that occasion, as he pounced deep into stoppage-time to hand Steve Bruce’s side a hard-fought equaliser.

The England striker is hoping Sunderland can continue to show such spirit throughout the remainder of the season, with it vital that they are able to scale those heights if they are to secure a top-10 finish.

“I think we’ve started the season well and we’ve shown a hell of a lot of spirit,” Bent told the Evening Chronicle. “We’ve worked very hard for each other and I think we got what we deserved against Arsenal. We’re never-say-die and that has to be the attitude for the season if we’re going to finish in the top half of the table.”

SUNDERLAND OFFERED COULDN’T BE REFUSED

Rennes chief Dreossi has spoken on Gyan sale saying that Sunderland made offer he could not refuse. Sunderland splashed out a record fee for the Ghana international on transfer deadline day.

Rennes general manager Pierre Dréossi said: “We wanted to keep Asamoah for another year and sell Ismael Bangoura, but the offer from Sunderland was not refusable neither for the player nor the club.

“We would have preferred to settle the transfer 15 days before the closure of the market. This would have allowed us to consider things more.”