This team never gives up!
We can sit here and criticise individual performances, tactics, the credentials of the captain, who deserves to play each week and more, but the one thing that cannot be debated any longer is whether or not these players are as committed as the supporters are.
For such a long time - in particular the two seasons prior to this one - it was clear that they weren’t, but as of right now Sunderland have, without a doubt, a squad that plays with the same passion and aggression as the supporters would if they could be the ones out there pulling on a red and white shirt.
They just never give up. Ever.
Even when we play badly we have the heart and spirit to pull ourselves back from the brink. We struggled to break Rochdale down at times, but a mixture of desire and individual quality ensured that we got the two goals that we needed to win all three points.
It’s no coincidence that we’ve only lost twice all season in the league. The fact we’re so resolute - despite the pressure on us to not only deliver, but do so without an array of quality players at our disposal who are missing due to injury - speaks volumes.
Wyke the unlikely hero
It’s been refreshing to see Charlie Wyke win the hearts of the supporters this week.
After an emphatic cameo at Wembley was followed up by a spirited performance at Accrington, Wyke showed us what he’s capable of when he’s feeling confident and has the fans behind him with a well-taken, instinctive finish which got Sunderland back in the game.
I was in the away end yesterday and it seemed that the thousands of us in attendance sang Wyke’s name for the majority of the game. He responded by giving a committed, aggressive performance - the type of showing we expected we’d see on a regular basis when he was signed in the summer.
The treatment of Wyke by the fans is a fantastic reminder of what it means to be a supporter. The Sunderland fans could see the lad needed our help and, in getting behind him, we’ve given him immense confidence which, in turn, should see him turn in some important performances before the season ends next month.
Keep it up, Charlie!
Even when Sunderland were struggling to build attacks, Dylan McGeouch remained a classy performer for Sunderland and was my man of the match.
He’s starting to look like the player we thought we had signed in the summer. With no other ‘leaders’ in the middle, McGeouch took control of the game and he clearly thrives in that role - it’s hard to see how Grant Leadbitter can dislodge him from the side at the minute. And I’m a huge fan of Leadbitter, but since they’re so similar it has to be one or the other - and the in-form McGeouch has done more than enough to keep his spot for Burton.
Healthy competition is needed, and right now we’ve got it in a number of key positions.