Are the games catching up on the squad?
I think I said post-match that I wouldn’t have used that as an excuse for the performance because we were playing against a team who have also had a heavy schedule.
Perhaps in hindsight, I may have refreshed the team even more than I did, but it’s always wonderful in hindsight to say what you might have done within a game.
It was a strange atmosphere within the stadium from what we’ve been used to in the main this season. There were different circumstances around the match, but equally, I wouldn’t look for any excuses other than we didn’t play well on the night.
On the drop in attendance against Walsall...
We commented on that pre-match, I was asking what they were expecting attendance wise and ordinarily that figure is fairly healthy, especially for the way FA Cup replay attendances are nowadays.
But within our stadium, it obviously doesn’t feel like very much.
Because we’ve been fortunate that not only have we attracted big crowds in the stadium this season, but by in large, the atmosphere has been positive and buoyant.
There’s always a responsibility on us to create that atmosphere, but it is very different. I think everybody who was at the Stadium of Light the other night would have felt a completely different feeling.
Very much more like the Checkatrade Trophy atmosphere within games, rather than the league games.
We wanted to make sure the FA Cup was viewed the same as league games, but the atmosphere probably lent itself to feeling like a Checkatrade match.
On the number of fixtures affecting the attendance...
I still thought the attendance we had the other night was very good in the circumstances of the number of fixtures we’ve had.
The number of fans that have consistently supported us both home and away and the sacrifices they have to make to do so. Also, the time of the year and beyond that, the number of fixtures we have over the Christmas period as well.
So, no, absolutely no issue with that. Again, it’s always our responsibility to produce a performance that enthuses a crowd regardless of whether it’s 80,000 or 30,000+.
On facing Bristol Rovers...
I think we’ve already seen that irrespective of the oppositions league position, when they’ve came to the Stadium of Light they’ve always reacted to playing in that environment and how they view that game.
I would imagine that the challenge we’ll face on Saturday will be equally as tough as it’s been in every home game. But for us, on the back of one of our most disappointing performances of the season, it’s nice to be at home again.
With the crowd that will be in attendance and with that different atmosphere.
We’ve not really had to bounce back very often this season because of how the season has went, but when we’ve had to, we’ve done it well.
So, I would expect the same again from the players, that faith and trust in them hasn’t diminished in any respect from the other night.
On current injuries...
Hopefully the ones who were absent during the week through injuries, so Lynden and Aiden, hopefully will be OK.
Lynden certainly, Aiden as well, it’s very early today but I’ll catch up with them and I’m hopeful that they’ll be all be OK for the weekend.
On the players mindset changing after defeat...
The one thing that I’ve probably learnt from my playing days in particular, but I think you have to have this when you get into coaching and management, is that you can’t get too high with the highs and too low with the lows.
If you can have that mentality across the playing side of your club, it does stand you in good stead because very, very few teams will ever go a whole season undefeated.
You only have to look at the course of British football to see how often that has happened through a season and that’s including some very, very good teams that haven’t managed to do that.
So, I think It’s about maintaining a consistency in behaviour and an emotional reaction when you win and equally, ensuring you don’t become too despondent when you lose a game because as I said earlier, that’s not happened often to us this season.
For me, it’s more encouraging the same things that they’ve shown over the bulk of the season. There’re aspects of the performance that we’ll touch on this morning and tomorrow that weren’t good enough and I said that after the game.
But the good thing is, I think the players always have an understanding of that.
On disregarding league position when facing teams at home...
I probably do it anyway, I certainly don’t think at any point this season that any of my preparation for games has taken into account the oppositions league position at that time because it’s more about assessing how they play, what they do and how we feel as if they’ll come and play at our stadium.
As you mentioned there, I sometimes maybe forget what it means to opposition players to come and play in the stadium. Some have not done it before and it is a fantastic arena, you become accustomed to it because we’re in it on a fortnightly basis.
But they’ve all responded to the environment and have wanted to embrace it, so that has made it even more challenging.
For every game, we’ve spoken about the unique challenges we face on a weekly basis, either home or away. So, I would expect the same on Saturday, but I would also expect us to enjoy playing at the stadium again.
Our record, by in large, has been good, in particular league games.
So, we want to continue that at the weekend.
Has anything changed on players contracts?
No, not at the moment. I think Stewart had eluded to hopefully having some news, I think that maybe the case. I think I’ve said this before as well, but because of the number of fixtures we have at the moment, my focus has been taken up with that.
Obviously, I was privy to that type of communication prior to Stewart tweeting it.
I’ve never had any issue with his levels of communication with supporters and I can’t think of any occasions where by he’s communicated anything that he hasn’t done to me or is relevant to me.
There are things that I don’t need to know first before he messages them that aren’t particularly relevant to my job. But those that are, I’m always aware of.
What are your thoughts on the ‘Sunderland Till I Die’ documentary?
It’s different. First of all, I would say that Fulwell 73, the production company, I don’t think you can question their ability and professionalism in making good television because I’ve obviously seen the opening episode and I’ve seen the trailer that they’ve put together for potentially a second series. Their work is very, very good within their own field.
What I would also say is that if you ask anybody in any walk of life, it’s got a very different feel to it when you’re involved and when you’re being filmed quite a lot. It’s been a different set of circumstances for me, ultimately how I’m judged will always be on what we achieve on the pitch and naturally, you would also know that that is where my focus lies.
It’s been different. I think that people will look forward to seeing the first series, I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of it because I’ve only seen the first episode. If we are part of a second series then hopefully it will be a positive news story if you like, or a positive piece of film making for what we want to achieve this season.