What a truly bizarre game this past Saturday’s defeat to Coventry City was. Nine goals, defensive gaffes, deflected strikes, defunct systems - you name it and the game had it. The defeat will likely live long in the memory due to its peculiarity and sheer insanity.
But looking at the bigger picture, the game has immediate ramifications for our short-term future.
The defeat moved the Lads down to third place, level on points with Pompey in fourth, and one point ahead of the in-form Charlton - who thrashed Luton 3-1 this weekend - in fifth.
That being said, Sunderland and Portsmouth still hold a game in hand over both Barnsley and Charlton, meaning their clash at the end of the month could have an enormous impact on the race for automatic promotion.
It is tight at the top and bottom of #SkyBetLeagueOne - this is how the table looks going into the last few games of the season. #EFL pic.twitter.com/adCxtKS6fY— Sky Bet League One (@SkyBetLeagueOne) April 13, 2019
However, after watching this weekend’s game, what do you think wrong and how do you think those issues could be solved?
Many will point to individual mistakes costing us the game - Sunderland’s defence in particular made several costly errors that handed Coventry the impetus to take all three points. Would several changes in personnel be enough to reinforce the leaky defence?
Other people have argued that Sunderland’s 4-4-2 system simply isn’t robust enough, and that this issue was highlighted yesterday as the central midfield partnership of Grant Leadbitter and Max Power simply couldn’t dictate proceedings. In turn, Coventry were able to counter quickly and that led to several goals. Could a change in formation do the trick?
Of course, it is worth remembering that Sunderland have quite a hefty injury list at the moment. Aiden McGeady looked sluggish when introduced whilst Reece James, Adam Matthews, Lee Cattermole, Dylan McGeouch, Chris Maguire, and Lynden Gooch are all struggling with injuries.
Could it be the case that the Coventry loss was simply a bad day at the office that the Lads will need to forget rather quickly if they are to ensure that promotion does indeed find its way to Wearside?
Let us know your thoughts on what went wrong and how you think those issues could be resolved ahead of our remaining fixtures. We’ll take a selection of answers and include them in a follow-up article in the next few days!