Q: Two wins on the bounce, 4 unbeaten, promotion rival dispatched of - fair to say that the mood amongst the fans has taken an upward turn over the last few days. Are you confident that we’re heading in the right direction?
Jack Ford says...
Saturday’s victory has all the hallmarks of a potential Sliding Doors moment on Wearside.
A comeback win against a promotion rival, a significantly improved and impressive attacking performance, and rumours of investors in the stands all combine to make me feel much more optimistic for the season ahead.
Although we started very slow again, once Willis equalised the whole team seemed to step up in confidence, and ascended to what looked like top gear after Maguire made it 2-1. While I’ve been critical of Ross in the past, and accept this is just one result, I can’t help but feel that Ross might be onto a winner here with what was possibly the best performance I’ve seen from us in League One.
Questions might still surround our left back situation and our ideal centre-mid partnership, but I think we’ve come across a solid first choice XI and formation. Ozturk and Willis looked great throughout the game against one of the best attacks in the league, and the front four of McGeady, McNulty, Maguire and Gooch provided an effective mix of industry, skill, and good old-fashioned skulduggery.
The quick turnaround in games, and the expected decrease in quality opposition in the coming week means this is a perfect opportunity to build on the foundations set today and really kick on. Rochdale and Wimbledon should be far weaker opponents than Portsmouth, and going away to a struggling Peterborough could be a perfect time to lay down a marker and heavily defeat a pre-season promotion favourite on their own turf.
A couple more performances like this and Ross will have many, including myself, eating their words.
Phil Butler says...
Absolutely! This time last week we were left bemoaning yet another negative performance resulting in yet another one-all draw.
In truth, the manner of the performance on Tuesday night is what really started to increase my optimism that Jack Ross would make the changes required to improve upon Sunderland’s slow start.
Despite falling behind to another sloppy goal, Sunderland’s ability to respond almost immediately through Jordan Willis’s first goal for the club proved to be a pivotal moment in the match, and from that point onward Sunderland’s performance improved to the levels shown at the Wham Stadium in midweek.
The front four of McNulty, McGeady, Maguire and Gooch provided plenty of joy and - despite some small concerns that they couldn’t play together - McGeady and Maguire combined well for the latter to finish the winning goal.
Sunderland’s transfer business was also vindicated as John Marquis was yet again anonymous against Jack Ross’ team, and the decision to sign the impressive McNulty instead of the former Doncaster target man is being vindicated more and more each week.
Also, we beat Portsmouth and I can’t stand Portsmouth. So aye, Ha’way the Lads!
Chris Wynn says...
I’ve said it in at least one other piece that a week is a long time in football, and this week is the perfect example.
I’ve never had a feeling that we were that far off. I was frustrated as I thought we hadn’t kicked on since last season but I was still confident that result in us being there or thereabouts.
I genuinely thought in small doses on the opening day we looked okay, and the Oxford goal raised the anxiety levels to a level where the players couldn’t find the gears they needed, but they avoided defeat.
Ipswich was the worrying game where we were awful. But, again, we avoided defeat. If there was a sign that the players still bought into the plan it was the way they fought in the second half at Portman Road to avoid defeat.
The last five days has produced two well needed victories despite waiting until late in the day at Accrington and coming behind for a third straight League game against Portsmouth.
We still have question marks that will be answered over the coming weeks.
New players are likely to come in and will they help us to make the improvement we need or will they take time to settle? We still need a left sided player as I’m not convinced that Hume is ready to be first choice for the coming season.
Will we keep pulling results out after going behind or find our stride and start putting teams away comfortably?
It’s clear we’re not the finished product yet and there is still work to do, but what’s clear is the players character is standing up to what has been, in terms of performances, an average start to the season.
We’re doing fine and I think we’ll keep improving. It’s always a long, hard season in League One, let’s hope we’ve just had our bad patch!
Sam Blakey says...
This week has been exactly what everyone at the football club has needed over the recent weeks. A convincing win in the week and then 3 points against a direct promotion rival whom we struggled against last season.
I’ll be the first to admit that when I saw the team sheet on Saturday I questioned if we would have enough in midfield with Power and Leadbitter, however they both in my opinion deserve special mentions for coming in and doing a superb job covering most of the pitch. Leadbitter’s performance in particular oozed one of a complete captain, doing the dirty work well and leading his teammates throughout.
Willis and Ozturk showed to me that they should be our centre half partnership going forward. Although we still don’t have a clean sheet to our name, I thought the two of them were solid throughout and will only get stronger with time - their partnership excites me a lot.
We showed that we have more than enough attacking threat to carry us this season with McNulty and Maguire linking up together, as well as McGeady and Gooch looking a threat with the ball at their feet. Wyke looked a handful when he came on battling for every ball in the air and displayed decent hold up play too which is exactly what we need from him.
A convincing win against Rochdale would be ideal, we need to really kick-start our season now, and collectively get behind Ross and the lads.
I am aware that it’s only one game, however after failing to win a league match against Portsmouth (apologies for swearing) last season, Saturdays result feels even sweeter. More of the same going forward - Ha’way the lads!