Sunderland struggle against teams with substantially bigger players
The warning signs were there last Wednesday when we struggled to contain Tom Eaves, and today they were pronounced clearly and profoundly as a git big team of bruisers trampled our talented, hardworking but comparably smaller side.
It was our midfield, especially, that suffered the brunt of the bashing. Throughout the entirety of the first half the likes of George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch and Max Power tried constantly to play a fluent brand of football which would lend itself to their individual quality but were cut-out and closed down at every twist and turn. Eventually, we had no choice but to resort to playing the same hoof-ball against a team who were far better adapted to this crude style of play.
In a division like the one we’re in, AFC Wimbledon certainly won’t be the last team of massive sh*thouses attempting to beat the points out of us. Jack Ross, going forward, will no doubt be plotting as many ways around this issue as he can.
Substitutions made all the difference in the world
They really did. Dylan McGeouch was a breath of fresh air; a tidy yet forceful midfielder who helped us orchestrate a lot more attacks than we would’ve had without him. Bryan Oviedo offered a pair of fresh, dexterous legs which the Wimbledon right-back was predictably not good enough to deal with. As for Alim Ozturk... well... he didn’t do anything wrong, did he?
Not only do these players foreground the formidable strength-in-depth which we’ll need if he hope to keep beating these teams week-in-week-out, it also shows Jack Ross’s ability to immediately identify his side’s strengths and weakness and subsequently make the necessary changes. We saw it against Charlton - another game where we happened to be a goal down at half-time, only to emerge 2-1 winners come the final whistle - and we saw it again here today.
Hopefully, when the likes of Aiden McGeady, Duncan Watmore, Jerome Sinclair and Charlie Wyke are in and amongst the first team, we’ll have even more potential for clinical impact substitutions!
Don Love is a weakness
We all want nothing but success for Don Love - his surname and blossoming bromance with Max Power make that so. But he looks out of his depth - this after dropping to a level where he should be comfortable.
Love always had the look of a very limited full-back when playing in the Championship, with his capabilities going forward seemingly non-existent and his passing game generally disappointing, and I’m afraid to say he doesn’t look much better in this division.
He was comfortably the worst player on the pitch for us yesterday and the same can be said for our game against Gillingham. Adam Matthews shouldn’t be too concerned over his prospects of making an immediate return to the starting XI.
I’m prepared to look at my judgements of Lee Cattermole last season and proceed to eat a big steaming slice of humble pie
Ever since the cup game against Sheffield Wednesday he’s been a solid, assured, consistent component of our midfield engine. He’s sat deep, sprayed lovely passes left, right and John Mensah; allowed our younger, more energetic midfielders to maraud up the pitch while ensuring a trademark cruncher will intercept any opposing jobber who manages to nick the ball off them and charge the other way.
Yesterday was no exception - except that it was - because as well as doing all of the aforementioned, Cattermole got his name on the scoresheet... twice! A man who had only scored three times in his previous two-hundred-and-eight Sunderland appearance added two more to that infamous roster today.
Incredulous remarks aside, these goals highlighted just how important the lad was today. He was a significant contributor to many of Sunderland’s moves and thoroughly deserved to be the one to get us back in the game and subsequently win it for us.
I, like many, wrote him off as ‘finished’ this season based on his performances the season prior. I am now prepared to bake my words into a humble pie, and I’m more than happy to eat them.