Maja showed why he should have started
I’m a big fan of Jerome Sinclair and what he brings to the team - we love a player that works hard for the team here at Sunderland and you can’t question the Watford loanee’s commitment to the cause.
Sadly, he’s not much of a goal threat as a result and when reflecting on the Plymouth performance I felt that Josh Maja might have done enough to warrant a start.
Surprisingly he was left on the bench, with Sinclair preferred to go up against battling defender Adam El-Abd, who was tough and resilient all afternoon.
Maja’s introduction came early in the second half and showed exactly why he probably should have started. Some neat touches and interplay with our attacking line helped us break Wycombe down, and then as per usual he was in the right place at the right time when the ball fell to him ten yards out.
Maja has a skill that can’t be trained - he’s always in a position where he’s able to capitalise and score goals. Jermain Defoe was great at it, Darren Bent was great at it and so too was Kevin Phillips - and whilst Maja has a way to go before he’s viewed as being on that level, it’s undeniable that he’s the most important player that we have in this team right now.
He needs to play when fit and available - he’s the only man we have capable of scoring goals at the rate which we need in order to keep winning these games.
Slack all over the park
For the first time in ages we weren’t at the races - well, that was until we got the goal.
I won’t be overly critical because the lads have been superb, and off-days happen.
It’s now about how they use the performance as a barometer for improvement - if we want to win the league we have to make sure we’re at it from the first whistle of every game, particularly against teams that are way below us in the table.
Once we got level, it looked as though we might have gone on to win it. Had the game gone on ten minutes more, I think we’d have came out on top.
The one thing that Jack Ross has at his disposal is options - the players who didn’t cut it now have to work extra hard in training to ensure they do their utmost to keep their place when we head to Walsall next week.
McGeough and Honeyman need to look over their shoulders
I actually think that Sunderland’s midfield pair have done alright in recent weeks, but on Saturday they were well off the pace and the fact they weren’t able to take control in the centre of the park was a huge factor in why we played poorly.
We were unbalanced, and that was the main reason why we couldn’t take hold of the game by the scruff of the neck. Honeyman was uncharacteristically nowhere near the ball most of the time, and McGeough was often too deep to influence proceedings.
Once Max Power came on the tempo noticeably ramped up a notch.
He made mistakes too, but the fact he was prepared to take risks meant the team played on the front foot. He fizzed a delightful pass into the feet of Josh Maja which really deserved to have been an assist, and took a shot on from range which was worthy of winning the game - he took some ownership in the centre at a time when it was much-needed.
Lee Cattermole should be back for next weekend too, and now Ross has a decision to make.
On paper, Power and Cattermole are Sunderland’s strongest options in that position. Will he make such a huge change, or will he keep faith in two men who are big favourites in the eyes of the manager? I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I won’t be surprised if alterations are made.