After yet another disappointing draw this time at Oxford, Sunderland had two chances to rectify their faltering form.
Two home games against teams outside the promotion bubble offered Jack Ross’ men a glorious opportunity to claim six points and close the gap on the top two in League One.
What followed, however, was two more maddening draws against Blackpool and Accrington Stanley raising even more questions about the ability of the squad and coaching team on Wearside.
Sunderland were awful, magnificent, infuriating and maddeningly inconsistent depending on which minute of which game you’re assessing from last week. Our rankings reflect the chaotic nature of recent Sunderland performances, where players are going from hero to zero and vice versa all within the same match.
Potential challengers for Jon McLaughlin’s top spot after the Blackpool draw fell away after baffling performances against Accrington. Grant Leadbitter was in pole position to claim the prize, but dropped off after a sub-par performance that saw him hooked on Friday.
Jack Baldwin and Jimmy Dunne looked to be forming a formidable partnership worthy of top five status after largely shutting down Blackpool’s frontline - outside of Armand Gnanduillet’s thunderbolt. Both defenders were horrifyingly bad against Stanley and find themselves barely in the top ten as a consequence.
Chris Maguire was the one Sunderland player to recapture some momentum after an inspirational substitute performance against Accrington. His game-changing cameo has vaulted him back up to second.
1: Jon McLaughlin (SR) - Surprisingly two games passed without McLaughlin producing any superhuman, highlight reel saves. Our number one, remains number one though, mainly due to the inconsistencies of Sunderland’s outfielders.
2: Chris Maguire (17) - Another huge spike in the Power Rankings for Maguire after he galvanised his teammates and saved Sunderland from a first home league defeat of the season.
3: Luke O’Nien (5) - Being consistent in a week where very few Sunderland players were, is enough for our makeshift defender to rise back into the top three.
4: George Honeyman (6) - The only other first-teamer who matched McLaughlin and O’Nien in terms of reliability this week, whilst Maguire (rightfully) claimed the headlines it was Honeyman’s goal that sparked the Mackem comeback against Accrington.
5: Grant Leadbitter (3) - The front-runner for the top spot after the Blackpool game, his Accrington performance lost him votes and leaves the 33-year-old down in fifth.
6: Aiden McGeady (2) - You’ll notice a theme developing - McGeady was so abject and ineffective against Blackpool he looked likely to drop out of the top ten, his goal-scoring heroics against Accrington sees him fall just four spots.
7: Duncan Watmore (13) - Watmore was maddeningly inconsistent with his final ball against the Tangerines, but boy does his pace create havoc. He’s back in the top ten after his best showing since returning from injury.
8: Jimmy Dunne (7) - Eliminated himself from contention at the top after really struggling against Stanley. Blackpool was arguably his most complete performance for us; hopefully Friday was just a blip for the young prospect.
9: Jack Baldwin (15) - In Sunderland’s first fixture on TV in months Baldwin showcased all his worst qualities. The overly-ambitious passes, stupid tackles, going to ground too often, and a lack of physicality was all on show for the Sky cameras. His crucial goal against Blackpool keeps him in the top ten, though.
10: Lewis Morgan (4) - Drops to ten after failing to make a lasting impression in two substitute appearances.
11: Max Power (SR) - Missed out on Tuesday after becoming the third Sunderland player to welcome a child into the world in two weeks. He stays put at #11 after a lively performance off the bench against Accrington where he nearly scored twice.
12: Lynden Gooch (SR) - Another Wearsider who endured mixed fortunes across Sunderland’s two fixtures. He struggled with his tactical role against Blackpool getting hooked shortly after half-time. His inconsistent showing on Friday wasn’t enough to earn a top ten placement.
13: Reece James (9) - His inability to regularly contribute offensively is becoming an issue. He falls further down the rankings after poor showing at Blackpool and an improved, if forgettable, effort against Stanley.
14: Will Grigg (8) - Plummets out of the top ten after somehow failing to score his first Sunderland goal despite having a handful of presentable chances, including an open goal to shoot into. His movement and ability to find space suggests the Northern Ireland international’s luck in front of goal will change though.
15: Charlie Wyke (16) - A lively, impressive performance off the bench against Blackpool was cancelled out, and then some, by his shocking performance as a starter against Accrington he rises just one slot.
16: Adam Matthews (10) - Injured yet again, Matthews may be our most complete fullback, but he’s little use to the team when he’s sidelined so often.
17: Dylan McGeouch (14) - Once again McGeouch wasn’t featured in either game, and once again fanfare and support for his return to the starting 11 only grows louder, it’s virtually impossible to predict Jack Ross’ next move and whether we’ll see more of McGeouch going forward.
18: Tom Flanagan (SR) - Played briefly against Blackpool as a make-shift left-back, the former Burton defender must be hoping that Baldwin or Dunne played their way out of the team following the first-half collapse versus Accrington.
19: Lee Cattermole (SR) - Back in contention after his latest injury setback our former captain was an unused substitute against Blackpool.
20: Bryan Oviedo (SR) -Still out injured with a calf problem it remains to be seen whether the Costa Rica international has a part to play in our final 15 games.
21: Kazaiah Sterling 22: Benji Kimpioka 23: Robbin Ruiter 24: Alim Ozturk 25: Bali Mumba 26: Glenn Loovens 27: Denver Hume 28: Jack Bainbridge 29: Donald Love 30: Jake Hackett 31: Lee Connelly 32: Jack Diamond 33: Brandon Taylor 34: Jordan Hunter 35: Daniel Neil 36: Max Stryjek