IT was the sight Sunderland’s long-suffering supporters could not bear. Reading, whose style of play under Jaap Stam, was always likely to see them have more of the ball than their Wearside counterparts, were almost in mickey-taking mood for a period in the second half.

Just after the hour mark, with Sunderland behind, again, the Reading players started to pass the ball between themselves, while those in red and white just stood and watched.

Reading didn’t actually have to do anything, just keep possession, and that was all they did for a few minutes.

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Suddenly the frustration among the fans grew, the boos got louder, with more of the fans shouting a variation of abuse demanding more.

While Coleman, quite rightly, and owner Ellis Short were not singled out for any criticism, the negative vibes inside the Stadium of Light were as strong as they have been during that period of keep-ball as they have all season.

It seemed the bubble of optimism following the appointment of Coleman and the first two promising displays of his reign, at Aston Villa and then Burton, had already burst. He stood at the top of his technical area, hands in his pockets, well aware of what was going on around him.

Eventually Sunderland did win the ball back and showed more urgency in their play, but not before Reading had scored two further goals inside three second-half minutes to effectively wrap the game up, the signal for hundreds, if not thousands, of Sunderland supporters to walk out.

“Welcome to Sunderland, Chris. Now you know exactly what you have inherited,” was the comment from one disgruntled fan. He had a point, it was what everyone was thinking.

“Maybe the bubble has burst a little bit but I don’t think anyone in the club got too carried away with the result at Burton,” said full-back Adam Matthews.

“We’re still not in the position we want to be in. We were hoping to build on last week’s result but it hasn’t happened. Like the manager said in the changing room, we’ve got to get over it quickly.

“There were some promising signs for us but there are things we can improve on. I think the second half was disappointing because the last thing he said before we went out was, ‘keep it tight for as long as you can and see if we can stay in the game,’ so to concede an early goal in the second half wasn’t ideal.

“We’ll take some positives from the first-half performance but, overall, we’re very disappointed.”

More than 20,000 fans are staying away from the Stadium of Light these days, and it is understandable. After years of battling against dropping out of the Premier League, Sunderland are heading into League One if this season’s form is not addressed under the new manager.

Many felt the impact of Coleman’s appointment – and he was given a warm reception beforehand by the supporters – would have sparked a first home win in almost a year following the victory at Burton. Not so.

Sunderland, who face leaders Wolves at Molineux this weekend, will now head into the visit of Fulham on December 16 knowing the date of that game is just one day short of them going a full 365 days without winning in front of their own fans.

Given the growing list of absentees in his squad too – Saturday saw Paddy McNair (groin), Bryan Oviedo (knee) and the suspended Callum McManaman added to it – the task seems to be getting harder with Christmas approaching. There is a real sense something drastic could be required to turn things around, and that could well mean throwing more youthful exuberance into the mix.

Coleman said: “Before we kicked a ball against Reading, I said this would be the hardest one for us, because of the way the opposition play.

“People probably thought after last week we’d be on the front foot, all-out attack, but we’d probably have lost 3-1 with 11 men because Reading want you to do that.

“We had to be clever and cute, we’ve got to be better when adversity comes our way and we’ve got to learn how to suffer a bit better than we did. I totally understand the atmosphere, there’s only me and us who can change that.”

Sunderland started promisingly, with George Honeyman going close.

Reading had a couple of good chances themselves in the first half before McManaman’s stupidity in the third minute of stoppage time.

Having already been booked for a needless challenge on Mo Barrow near the touchline in the visitors’ half, McManaman helped in Matthews’ excellent delivery to the back post with his arm. A second caution duly arrived from referee Keith Stroud and Sunderland had to play the second half with ten men.

Eight minutes after half-time David Edwards slid in to put Reading ahead when Sone Aluko’s deflected effort went into his path, and then the big problems started for Sunderland.

Coleman had to look on in frustration as his midfield couldn’t get the ball back and the jeers started.

Barrow added the second in the 68th minute when he volleyed inside Robbin Ruiter’s near post, and three minutes later he had a second when he applied the cool finish to Yann Kermorgant’s flick.

Those two arrived after the introduction of Joel Asoro, but his energy and confidence to try things actually brightened up Sunderland’s play. He had already had an effort saved by former Black Cat Vito Mannone before Leandro Bacuna pushed him over in the box. Lewis Grabban converted his 11th goal of the season from the spot.

Asoro must be in the thinking to face Wolves, having also impressed at Burton. Moving forward, Coleman should even start to think about playing more youngsters, but there doesn’t even seem to be too many ready to be called upon.

The Sunderland manager said: “Joel has done well. He plays without fear. Sometimes when you are young, that happens. Sometimes bringing a young player on brings fresh impetus, fresh legs, no fear. That’s what he has done in the last few games.”

Regardless of the direction Coleman decides to take, it is clear things need to change. A new manager – the tenth in six years – has already encountered a home defeat and a frustrated crowd.

Matthews said: “It’s a tough place to play at the minute but I’m sure once we get one win we can turn it into a fortress.”