THERE were chants of ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ and ‘are you watching Ellis Short’ as Sunderland suffered a third Championship defeat in a row – as the wait for a first Stadium of Light win of the campaign goes on.

The early signs of promise under Simon Grayson, who has only spent £1.25m on ten new players since taking on the job, have faded quickly and things deteriorated when Sheffield United claimed a routine three points on Wearside.

Sunderland only mustered one shot on target as the Blades, promoted from League One last season and performing solidly, claimed a first away win of the campaign.

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Striker Clayton Donaldson, signed from Birmingham on deadline day, struck a goal in each half to show Sunderland how it should be done and Grayson’s men have won just one of their opening six league games since dropping out of the Premier League.

Sunderland were in need of a lift after the back to back defeats to Barnsley and Leeds so Grayson was quick to introduce two of his three deadline day signings from the start against the Blades. They failed to have the desired effect.

Jonny Williams, the pick of the home side’s players despite the absence of first team football since last December, and Marc Wilson made their full home debuts in a new-look approach which saw the latter play in a three-man defence.

Despite Williams initially buzzing around, though, Sunderland struggled to make an impact in the final third because of a lack of movement and it was Sheffield United who caused the first half problems.

There had been nothing of note at either end until the opener in the 21st minute.

Wilson, asked to play on the left of three centre-backs, gave Donaldson far too much space to control a pass down the line and cut inside. The visitors’ most recent signing struck a low drive in off goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter’s inside post.

That had arrived after a Sunderland attack which had come to nothing and Sheffield United made the most of a quick counter-attack. Ruiter ought to have done better and after that Sunderland looked nervous at the back.

The Dutch goalkeeper did tip a Donaldson header over the bar on half hour before then he was on hand to hold a curling effort from Mark Duffy moments later.

At that stage Sunderland struggled to make inroads towards Jamal Blackman’s goal. The only occasion they did was when James Vaughan acrobatically volleyed a Lewis Grabban cross wide from 12 yards.

After the break there was still no way through a Sheffield United defence well marshalled by Chris Basham, so Grayson swapped the ineffective Vaughan – still waiting for his first goal since leaving Bury - with new recruit Callum McManaman.

But there was still no change and Jack Rodwell, recalled in the absence of the sidelined Lee Cattermole, was subjected to boos from some of Sunderland’s own fans after another low-key display.

Things got worse with 13 minutes remaining. Sheffield United substitute David Brooks rolled a pass in behind the defence where Donaldson, with just Ruiter to beat, arrowed a terrific finish inside the top left corner.

The frustrations were clear in the stands, and not even Rodwell’s late header – when he glanced a McManaman delivery from a set-piece beyond Blackman – could improve the mood.

SUNDERLAND (3-1-4-2): Ruiter; Browning, Kone (O’Shea 46), Wilson; Rodwell; Honeyman (Gooch 74), Ndong, Williams, Galloway; Grabban, Vaughan (McManaman 60). Subs (not used): Steele (gk), Jones, Matthews, Gibson.

SHEFFIELD UNITED (3-4-1-2): Blackman; Basham, Wright, O’Connell; Stevens, Fleck, Coutts, Freeman; Duffy (Lundstram 67); Donaldson (Evans 80), Sharp (Brooks 68). Subs (not used): Eastwood, Baldock, Carter-Vickers, Lafferty.