How Have We Fared?
Though we only lost one of our five games in April - against Champions Leicester City - it's been a very up-and-down month for Sam Allardyce's men, and though we've collected six points from five games it hasn't been enough to pull us clear of the relegation zone, instead finding ourselves occupying eighteenth place, one point below Newcastle United.
At the start of April we took on West Brom at the Stadium of Light, and really should have won, instead drawing the game 0-0. Tony Pulis fielded a side to frustrate Sunderland and they did just that, but we had more than enough chances to win the game. It felt like a huge set back.
We then took on Leicester, and despite matching them for most of the game we were undone by Jamie Vardy on two occasions, losing the match 2-0, placing huge pressure on ourselves to beat Norwich the following week.
We did just that, and did so with immense style. With just three chances in the whole game, we scored three goals and took advantage of Norwich's frailties at the back. All in all, it was a great day at the office.
We followed up the Norwich win with a solid point against Arsenal. Our defending was on point, frustrating our opponents throughout the game and, being honest, we probably should have taken all three points, finding ourselves foiled by the world class ability of Petr Cech in the Gunners' goal.
April was rounded off with a disappointing 1-1 draw away at Stoke City this weekend, putting in our worst performance in quite some time. With all hope lost a late penalty was awarded after a foul on Jermain Defoe, who dispatched the spot kick with ease to earn us a point in a game that we probably deserved to take nothing from.
Who Were The Reader's Picks?
In each of the five games played in April we had a different man of the match, which makes a change.
Against West Brom Jan Kirchhoff collected 60% of the votes, with the German dominating all of the middle of the pitch against a side who are usually competitive in midfield. Younes Kaboul has improved immensely since returning to the side and it has showed in the reader voting, with the Frenchman collecting 33% of the votes from the Leicester City game.
Lee Cattermole put in his finest showing of the season away at Norwich, and he collected 670 votes for his performance, a 58% share of the final total.
As a result of Jermain Defoe's penalty against Stoke we earned a point right at the death, and the Roker Report readers voted him the man of the match, receiving a massive 50% of the total votes.
Who Has Had A Bad Month?
We compile player ratings after every Sunderland game and then average out the score across all games that month - despite playing just once this month, Jack Rodwell earned a score of three for April, playing just once as a substitute off the bench against Leicester City, and it was his missed chance which perhaps cost Sunderland the chance of a point from the game, missing pretty much an open goal from point blank range with Leicester leading 1-0.
Dame N'Doye featured from the bench against West Brom, Leicester and Stoke, and he earned a score of 3.4. e're still yet to see what he's actually good at, as reflected in his scoring. I somehow don't see him being signed in the summer, do you?
Who Has Had A Good Month?
Our defending has improved remarkably since Younes Kaboul joined Lamine Kone in the centre of our back line, something duly noted by ourselves.
Both players have contributed massively in recent times, and with both players scoring 7.4 for April, you have to hope that their highly consistent performances may well contribute towards our eventual survival. Keeping the pair together for the remaining three games of the season is absolutely vital.
Player Of The Month - Jan Kirchhoff
Well, with Kirchhoff, Kone and Kaboul all tied on 7.4 I decided to put it to our followers on Twitter to decide, opening a one hour poll this morning. Rather unsurprisingly, Jan Kirchhoff ran away with the voting, and as a result he is your Player Of The Month for the second month in a row.
Ok - we have a tie for April's Player Of The Month. All three men finished on 7.4. Vote for your winner! #SAFC— Roker Report (@RokerReport) May 3, 2016
(I'm aware of the spelling mistake - soz.)
Kirchhoff is consistently good, and has cemented himself as a fan favourite following a string of excellent battling performances in the centre of the Sunderland midfield. With hindsight in mind, I just wish we had him tied down to a longer deal.
It's difficult for me to explain just how brilliant Jan Kirchhoff is, and we really need to enjoy every minute of him because.... well, I don't want to say it, but you never know how long he's going to be around.