Was Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat against Leicester City’s under-21s one of Sunderland’s worst ever results in our 140-year history? That can be debated, but what can be said is that it was an embarrassing display - the worst performance I have seen all season.
The team lacked any creativity, except a moment of magic from Maguire to open the scoring, and the players were devoid of the desire to win - and that’s worrying.
Phil Parkinson named a very strong starting eleven and gave fringe players an opportunity to show him their qualities to put themselves in the frame for a league place, but not one player showed enough on the night to suggest that they should enter our thoughts.
In midfield, McGeouch and Leadbitter hardly made an attacking forward pass. Although Alim Ozturk was only on for 37 minutes, he was sloppy and was nearly caught out - the lack of match action he’s seen recently was clearly having an effect. Up top the team lacked in creativity and effort.
I thought after our goal came that the players would then be able to control the game and further increase our dominance, but Leicester’s second string side came with a plan and carried that out exceptionally, and did well to expose Sunderland’s weaknesses.
The fact that we lacked urgency and failed to return fire on our opponents when going behind was concerning - where is their professional pride?
We barely mustered a shot on target and you have to wonder whether the players were even bothered about winning the game.
Parkinson is left with a huge dilemma as next up we face a first round FA Cup tie at home to Gillingham on Saturday lunchtime. After Tuesday night’s match, the new manager will expect a reaction and will most likely field a very strong side.
With Ozturk picking up a knock I would expect Willis to come in, in his place as he did in the first half on Tuesday. With £36,000 being at stake for the winner, the club should use this as some added motivation to progress to the second round.
The one thing Phil Parkinson won’t want is a replay down at Gillingham as it will add yet another fixture to our congested schedule at a time when we can ill afford it, with our squad stretched and time on the training pitch limited. And the fact Parky hasn’t had much time to work with his players is quite important at this stage - personally I’d have the Bristol Rovers game called off so that it gives the manager time to work with his players, which will be well-needed after a hectic start to life at Sunderland.
His record of four losses from six does not look good on paper, and despite performances improving he’s got to win - perhaps even convincingly - in order to help gain some momentum both for himself and his squad, who cannot allow losing to become a habit.