The players need to sort it out
Many people have claimed that Sunderland’s squad simply isn’t good enough to gain automatic promotion, that it’s not as strong as many want to believe and is most definitely not the League One powerhouse that it should be.
Maybe they are right after all, the proof is in the pudding.
Simply not having the quality to beat any given opponent on any given day is not a crime in the eyes of many Wearsiders, but the lack of bottle and effort shown by the players during Saturday’s performance was simply unacceptable, and it’s about time someone said it.
This squad of players need to realise what club they’re at and that it isn’t a negative, horrible place where monsters live - if you have the backbone and personality to embrace the fact you play for Sunderland, stick your chest out and work hard then it’s the best place in the world to play your football.
Jack Ross has lost his job and others off the pitch - in particular the owners and recruitment staff - have taken their fair share of criticism since the end of last season, yet for some reason we don’t appear to hold the players to the same standards.
The fact of the matter is that the Sunderland players are simply not showing that they want promotion anywhere near as much as they should be, and that isn’t good enough.
Being outplayed is absolutely not a problem, that’s football, but being bullied by Bolton Wanderers, Lincoln City and Wycombe is unacceptable as it falls beneath the line of what every Sunderland fan should expect as a bare minimum when their players walk on the pitch.
Sort it out.
Burge was impressive on his league debut
New Sunderland gaffer Phil Parkinson sprung a couple of surprises on Saturday with his team selections, and dropping Jon McLaughlin was definitely one of them, considering the former Bradford stopper has played successfully under Parkinson before.
However, for a number of weeks many supporters had called for the introduction of Lee Burge to the team and, to his credit, he didn’t let anyone down with his performance. He may not have kept a clean sheet, nor was the team’s overall performance good enough, but Burge collected everything and tried his best to get the outfield players back on the attack quickly from his goal kicks and throws.
If he can continue to provide the same level of performance, starting on Tuesday against Tranmere, then McLaughlin will have some fight on his hands as he endeavours to get back into the team after an underwhelming start to the campaign from one of last season’s top performers.
Wyke’s injury means plan B already?
In typical Sunderland fashion the man Phil Parkinson is likely to build his team around, Charlie Wyke, suffered an ankle ligament injury during Saturday’s game which is likely to keep him out for a number of weeks at least.
The former Bradford striker hasn’t been firing on all cylinders but, as the first 45 minutes demonstrated on Saturday, Parky evidently views him as the man capable of providing a focal point for his side, with most of our first half attacking play going through the big man up top. Wyke wasn’t at his best at Adams Park, but the manager will hope that in time he could effectively stamp his identity on the squad and utilise Wyke as the pivot able to play in tandem with our talented wingers.
The loss of Wyke will be a huge blow to the new boss, and he’ll be hoping that he can manufacture a way to get our faltering front line firing without a player he clearly rates very highly.
It’s still early days
No one is more worried about our performance against Wycombe, position in the table and apparent lack of attacking nous than myself BUT - and it’s a big BUT - Phil Parkinson was only two days into the job on Saturday, so it’s worth comforting ourselves with the fact Saturday’s game will have shown him exactly what is wrong with this side and exactly what he needs to fix.
Parkinson, like any manager, deserves time to stamp his style on the squad and I’m sure he’ll be awarded it by a fanbase far more patient than it’s given credit for.
Saturday had very worrying signs, but if Parkinson didn’t know what a tough job he had on his hands beforehand, he certainly does now, and he’ll hopefully begin mixing his remedy as of Tuesday’s game against Tranmere Rovers.