MICHAEL BEALE admits his first game as Sunderland boss “could not have gone any worse”, but accepted the fact that a significant section of the home support at the Stadium of Light was chanting the name of his predecessor, Tony Mowbray.

Beale’s first game since being appointed on Wearside ended in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Coventry City, with goals from Tatsuhiro Sakamoto, Callum O’Hare and Kasey Palmer earning the away side a deserved victory.

Sunderland missed a glorious first-half opportunity when Abdoullah Ba blazed a shot over the crossbar, but despite dominating possession for long spells, the Black Cats were largely ineffective whenever they got to the final third.


Beale said: “Today couldn’t have gone any worse, let’s be honest about it. We have to apologise to our fans and we have to respond in a couple of days’ time (at Hull City on Boxing Day).

“Consistency has maybe been a bit of an issue for the group. That’s our tenth game that we’ve lost this season in 23, and we’ve won. So, at the halfway stage of the campaign, we have to decide what team we’re going to be moving forward. We certainly can’t let in three goals a game, that’s for sure.”

Sunderland’s players were booed from the field as they trailed at the half-time interval, and the chants for Mowbray became audible after Coventry scored their second goal.

They became even louder when Palmer rolled home the Sky Blues’ third goal, with both sets of fans singing “There’s only one Tony Mowbray” at one stage in the second half.

Beale said: “He (Mowbray) did a good job here, and I have no issue with the fans showing their affection towards him because he was a man who they were fond of and he did a good job.

“Ultimately, that’s now gone and we need to look forward. The team needs to get better results than it did today.

“We’ve got half a season left and we’re still in a good position. We played against a good team today – there’s a reason why they were in the play-off final last year. They lost their main striker, but they’ve invested heavily in the final third.

“I thought today, although we had the majority of possession and more shots than them, they were much more ruthless than us. I thought they were more streetwise than us as well, so there are some clear lessons for us going forwards because we lost a game last week at Bristol where we had the lion’s share as well.

“There are naturally some areas we have to improve on, but with half a season left, it’s game on for our squad.”