New head coach Lee Johnson admitted Sunderland’s 1-0 defeat to bottom-club Wigan made it clear that work needs to be done to improve his side’s attacking output.
Johnson took charge of his first game without leading a training session, having only being confirmed on the morning of the game.
He brought Aiden McGeady back into the starting line-up after the winger spent more than a year away from the first-team picture at the Stadium of Light following a fall-out with Phil Parkinson.
The decision injected some life into Sunderland’s attacking play early on and he had two of the Black Cats’ best chances.
But Wigan were able to hold onto the lead given to them by 19-year-old Kyle Joseph’s 16th-minute strike, ending a 10-match run without a win in Sky Bet League One.
Johnson will now look for improvements at Oldham on Tuesday night, with a three-point gap to make up on the play-off zone.
Johnson, who signed a two-and-a-half-year deal, said: “I think my honeymoon period lasted 15 minutes! I really wanted to take the game today because it is a learning process. I am learning about the players, the staff, all of it.
“I felt it was a little quiet all around the place. It is my job to create that element of creativity.
“We let the opposition off the hook too many times. We need to work on movement in the box, players to cross the near post. We played a 4-3-3 and that should enable you to get at least four in the box, sometimes five.
“We didn’t get enough numbers in the box and we didn’t get enough quality, dynamic movement.”
Former Republic of Ireland international McGeady was on loan at Charlton in the second half of last season and has trained with the Under-23s this season, up until the last week.
But Johnson put him straight in his starting line-up.
He said: “When I shook hands on the deal, I wanted to pick the team and Aiden was a sub, so I brought him into the XI.
“In my mind, knowing Aiden from my teams playing against him often enough, I felt it was important to give him a clean slate.
“If he is physically and mentally right, then Aiden has to be one of the best players in this division. And this side is lacking a bit of creativity. I wanted to bring that back.
“I thought he did OK. It was important to get the solid 75 minutes for him.”
Academy graduate Joseph scored his first goal in senior football, and boss Leam Richardson was disappointed the landmark strike came in front of an empty stadium.
“Kyle is on top of the world at the moment,” he told Latics TV. “The only disappointment for him and for us is that it wasn’t in front of 30,000 people here.
“He’ll remember that moment for the rest of his life. He’s been getting plaudits for a while now and as long as he keeps grounded and keeps working hard through the week like he does, he’ll have a very good career.”
Richardson said of the game: “It’s up there with one of my proudest moments in football.
“To come away from a place like Sunderland is a great feeling and it’s a great win, but off the back of what’s happening at the club, it feels even better.”