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Roker Rundown: Standards have slipped - Sunderland’s manager has to expect more from his players

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There can be no more f*cking about. Sunderland have to get promoted, and to do so our manager has to be ruthless and expect more from his underperforming players.

Scunthorpe v Sunderland: Leasing.com Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Where’s the professional pride?

I can’t sit here with a straight face and say that I’m unhappy that we’re out of the EFL Trophy. The entire competition feels like a waste of time until you reach the semi-final stage, and the extra games during what is already a congested period of the season only exist to stretch your squad, increase the size of your injury list and distract you from what ultimately matters - our league campaign.

Yet, the manner in which we allowed ourselves to get eliminated last night was embarrassing. If losing to the U21s side of a Premier League club in your own ground wasn’t bad enough, shipping three goals to the team sat in 21st place in League One when you’ve fielded what is pretty much your strongest side is simply indefensible.

There was next to nothing in the way of professional pride on show from the Sunderland players - it was clear that they weren’t putting in the effort, which is the bare minimum you expect from any group of players. The statistics on distances covered should make for interesting reading should they become available.

Each and every one of those players ought to take a long hard look at themselves today. Are you trying your best? Do you want to be successful this season? Or, are you just going to mope around and sulk? The hunger to succeed has to come from within - I feel for each and every one of those hardy souls who made the trip to Scunthorpe last night and paid to watch that complete and utter shitshow.

Scunthorpe v Sunderland: Leasing.com Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Parkinson has to show more fight

I’m behind Sunderland’s manager and feel like he needs time to put his own stamp on this team, but the results since his arrival have been alarming and our form in cup competitions cannot be allowed to continue once the league action resumes.

I think it’s difficult to judge his league performance, because we’ve not actually played that many League One games under his management, and I’d be a hypocrite if I started slating him for us going out of the cups because I’ve maintained we needed to focus solely on the league for ages - it’s just the manner of the last three performances that worry me.

Now that he has some time to reflect on his first month or so in the job, Parkinson has to increase standards across the board. Currently these players are not playing with a winning mentality. They don’t look fit enough. There has been no definable improvement in style of play. Even poor teams are making mugs of us.

He has to get ruthless after the international break. Increase the standards of what is expected of his players, and if there are individuals who are not buying into his methods then he has to make plans for the January window to move them on and find replacements.

There can be no more f*cking about. Sunderland have to get promoted, and to do so our manager has to be ruthless and expect more from a squad of underperforming players who are capable of so much more than they’ve shown not only under this manager, but the previous one.

Scunthorpe v Sunderland: Leasing.com Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Break is needed... for all of us

We’ve lost so many games recently that they’ve all blended into one - the schedule since Parkinson arrived has been ruthless, with the Lads playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday literally non-stop.

The international break allows us all to just take a breather and regather our thoughts after this hectic period, one that has not been fortuitous for Sunderland in terms of on the pitch results.

The Gillingham cup replay aside, we now have a clear path towards the end of the season. Very few distractions. A better idea of what we have coming our way. Players returning back from injury, and thus more options for the manager to pick from. Our next two league games are at home, albeit against strong opposition in Burton and Coventry, both of whom gave us a tough time last season.

Grant Leadbitter came out after the match to stress the importance of sticking together - and I’d agree; we all need to use this time away from action to get back on the same page and refocus our attention on getting promoted.