THERE was a sense of inevitability about another Sunderland defeat at the Stadium of Light.

Simon Grayson is doing everything he can to turn things around and the players can’t be accused of a lack of effort to help his cause.

But when the Black Cats supporters watched Craig Bryson volley Cardiff City ahead inside seven minutes, a fourth home defeat in a row always seemed likely.

Sunderland’s fans tried to stay with the players for most of the afternoon, those wearing red and white on the pitch kept plugging away to try to avoid another reversal and Grayson tinkered with systems in a bid to spark things into life.

The status quo on Wearside is that Sunderland lack quality, confidence, a clinical edge in the final third and, to cap things off, are making too many mistakes. All combined, it is little wonder a proud North-East club is sitting in the Championship’s relegation zone.

The problems Grayson has encountered have not been helped by injuries, with pre-deadline signings Callum McManaman and Jonny Williams missing against Cardiff, as well as the likes of Lewis Grabban and Duncan Watmore.

Having those four available – although all have lacked regular football over the last year or so – should provide a much-needed fillip for Grayson and the rest of the team; the way things are going they will have to act as club saviours.

Officially there were around 23,000 empty seats, and it looked like there was more to highlight the apathy there is towards Ellis Short’s ownership of the club.

‘We want Short out’ rang regularly around the Stadium of Light as Cardiff maintained their impressive start under Neil Warnock to stay in the top two after eight matches – and it is genuinely difficult to imagine Sunderland’s plight improving quickly.

You can’t help but feel sympathy for Grayson, who was desperate to take on the Sunderland challenge despite knowing of the problems he was going to inherit.

He said: “The players have got to be strong physically and mentally to shut it out. There were times at Leeds when fans wanted Ken Bates out when I was there, punters pay their money and are entitled to their opinion. The players get paid well so have to shut it out.

“I am a positive person. I will be down because we have lost another game. These players do genuinely care. There is not a player inside that dressing room who doesn’t care about that result. If you were in there you’d hear what they are saying.”

Short’s failure to find a buyer certainly hasn’t helped, with the vitriol towards him in the stands during matches when frustration grows is not helpful. Neither are the huge swathes of empty seats on all four corners of the ground, which could be helped if, say, one stand was shut down.

Grayson said: “It is for others above me to make those decisions. The more intimidating the atmosphere the better for everyone. Could it happen? I don’t know how viable it is with people already paying for their season tickets.”

One surprise victory, with a trip to Ipswich on the cards tomorrow night before Grayson returns to face Preston on Saturday, could have a massive impact on morale and confidence.

But as things stand Sunderland are making far too many errors to warrant three points. Both goals conceded against Cardiff were cheap, even though Lynden Gooch had cancelled out the first with a penalty eight minutes into the second half when he was brought down by Sean Morrison.

Cardiff’s route one opener arrived in the seventh minute. Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge’s goal-kick was flicked on by Kenneth Zohore, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was first to react to knock on the second ball, and Craig Bryson ran through to volley beyond Robbin Ruiter.

The winner was even easier. Lamine Kone, who had got away with a similar incident in the first half, hauled down Morrison as he went to meet a corner and Joe Ralls stepped up to convert the winner from the spot with 17 minutes remaining.

James Vaughan, epitomising Sunderland’s hard-working approach but unable to really threaten in the final third, knows things need to improve after winning just once this season in the league.

Vaughan said: “It’s not a depressing place, it’s just a depressing feeling. We’ve come here to win the game and we haven’t done that. We’ve let ourselves and we’ve let the club down. No-one in that dressing room’s happy at the minute but the games come thick and fast so we’ve just got to get our heads down and win on Tuesday.

“We’re not conning ourselves, we know where we’re at and we know where we need to be, but it’s far too easy to be looking at the league table. We just need to do what we’re good at and hopefully a bit of luck will drop our way.”