Simply put: one win in six games resulting in a grand total of seven points isn’t promotion form. Sunderland have struggled recently when trying to find a way to win, and that needs to change.
Profligacy in front of goal, defensive weak-mindedness, and silly individual errors have all contributed to a slump in form.
And while we currently occupy fourth place in the league, we also find ourselves 7 points away from first-placed Portsmouth, whilst being a mere 4 points from eleventh-placed Southend United.
It is argued that teams chasing automatic promotion need to accrue an average of 2 points per game in order to find themselves in with a chance of automatic promotion. Right now Sunderland sit at an average of 1.82 points per game, though in our last eight games we have only managed to find an average of 1.62 points. Not exactly title-chasing form.
Jack Ross and his men need to arrest this slide in form quickly in order to establish themselves as front-runners in the league - failure to do so could well stall our season.
The latest League One form table ⚽️— D3D4Football (@d3d4football) October 3, 2018
#Pompey playing up
Lee Bowyer gr8 job
⚽️Donny not so Darko
McCall turning Scunny around
Data: @FootyStats_org #cafc #drfc #uti #asfc #blackpoolfc #barnsleyfc #ltfc #pufc pic.twitter.com/DmJIvuhbXQ
It’s clear to see that the team want to go out and win every game - I don’t think anyone is suggesting Jack Ross’ side don’t try hard enough, or work hard enough. However, they do need to convert that energy and desire into consistent victories because if we don’t then the momentum generated since the summer could soon dissipate.
Injuries have obviously played their part, but Sunderland need to be more cut-throat in their endeavors. Recent games against Oxford, Fleetwood, Coventry, and Tuesday evening’s game against Peterborough could, or indeed should, have ended in three points for our side - instead silly mistakes cost us wins.
Daft red cards, defensive lapses - especially from set-pieces - and poor finishing has arguably cost us somewhere close to 8 points in recent games, enough to see our side sitting top of the table had we been more clinical and composed.
Jack Ross has done a really commendable job in taking the bare bones of a twice-relegated side, adding some meat to it, and then enabling that newly-formed side to play an often attractive brand of attacking football. That is impressive in itself.
Now, though, Ross and his men must find a way to win.
Josh Maja has been insatiable in front of goal this season, and Jerome Sinclair looked sharp against Peterborough midweek; l however, it feels like Max Power could well be the key to finding consistent success this campaign.
I penned a statistical piece a few weeks ago analysing the importance of Max Power to Jack Ross’ side, and stand by the claim that he is crucial to everything Sunderland do.
His athleticism, vision, range of passing, and knack for finding the back of the net are all crucial factors that Sunderland’s midfield seemingly lack in his absence.
Don’t get me wrong, Lee Cattermole has impressed so far in his resurgence, but Power seems an all-round more gifted footballer - at least in this league.
Subsequently, Jack Ross now faces a welcome headache in trying to find his best side. Both Cattermole and Power are pivotal in the middle, but does that mean expending Dylan McGeouch?
Aiden McGeady also looks a cut above at this level, but who does he replace? The injury suffered by Lynden Gooch might well allow Ross some breathing room, but the Cali-Mackem will be an undoubted miss, and will return to the starting lineup when healthy.
Then there’s the issue of George Honeyman’s place in the team; does he come back into the side now that he’s fit? Or, do Chris Maguire and Jerome Sinclair hold their positions with the skipper warming the bench?
It’s tricky, but Jack Ross simply has to piece together a side capable of finding a way to win, by whatever means necessary.
Our upcoming league fixtures see the Lads take on: Bradford (A), Shrewsbury (A), Doncaster (A), Southend (H), Plymouth (A).
Three of those sides find themselves in the bottom six while Southend sit mid-table, and Doncaster lie one point above us.
We need to see victories in the majority of those games - it’s vital to our chances of success.