Q: Do you think it was the correct decision from Jack Ross to cancel Sunderland’s game last weekend with Burton because of international call-ups, or could we have coped without Jon McLaughlin, Conor McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan?
Michael Graham says...
We’d have been able to cope, I’m sure, but it was the right decision regardless.
Of the three international call-ups, only really Jon McLaughlin would have been in the starting line-up this last weekend, so from a purely practical point of view I’d have backed us to beat Burton without one first-choice player.
If we’d have been making the decision a week ago, on the eve of the match, I’m sure we’d have probably opted to play the game but with the information we had at the time, it was a sensible call.
It’s an important time of the season and there is no reason to take risks. That changes later in the season if games are accumulating once the EFL trophy starts, if we are in it for any length of time, but for now why take any chances?
Tom Atkinson says...
It could be argued that the Burton cancellation is actually a blessing in disguise.
If truth be told, Sunderland have looked a little disjointed at times having switched from a back three to a flat back four. This extended break gives Jack Ross an opportunity to fine tune a few things on the training pitch and decide what the best plan of action is going forward.
Furthermore, adding two new defenders to the squad late in the window was a bit frantic. This break should allow them time to settle and amalgamate into the team. Jack Ross has his team set until January now, so this is a great opportunity for him to test combinations and settle of a starting XI - something he has been criticised for not knowing.
I understand the argument that this weekend would have been a great chance to “bounce back”, but on the other hand it would also have been a chance for a team with damaged confidence to potentially struggle. This break allows the squad time to regroup, reorganise, and refocus. It allows Jack Ross the chance to test new combinations, and it also allows injured players a chance to recover and regain some fitness.
If the Lads come out firing this weekend against Stanley, we will be lauding the extended break. Here’s hoping they do!
Phil West says...
Personally I would’ve preferred to have seen the Burton game go ahead. After a bad defeat in the previous game it would’ve represented an ideal opportunity for us to get back ‘at it’, right some wrongs, and to try and move ourselves into a stronger position in the league. A two-week break after a defeat is never the healthiest position to be in because everybody naturally gets frustrated, and you’re absolutely desperate for the next game to arrive.
Last season I think we often looked at our games in hand and thought, “This is a great chance to take advantage and to keep up the pressure,” but we failed in that task on too many occasions. With cup runs and fixture congestion we were forced into the role of the hunter, rather than the hunted, and ultimately it KO’d any hopes we might’ve had of automatic promotion. We were forced behind the eight-ball and never recovered, so ideally I’d like to avoid a situation like that this season, and so I hope the postponements are now kept to a minimum.
In terms of player absences I believe we could’ve coped without Tom Flanagan, as well as Jon and Conor McLaughlin. Lee Burge has impressed me whenever I’ve seen him play, Flanagan is not currently a first-choice at centre-back, and with the arrival of Laurens de Bock, our full-back ranks have been boosted, so I don’t think it would’ve necessarily weakened us. Our depth will undoubtedly be tested this season, and this would’ve been an ideal opportunity to make full use of our squad and to give valuable game time to as many players as possible.
Sam Blakey says...
It’s probably too soon to tell what the best call was regarding the Burton game, however the only real miss in terms of the starting eleven would have been Jon McLaughlin, with Flanagan and Conor McLaughlin ultimately being squad players if everyone is fit.
Lee Burge came in against Burnley and didn’t put a foot wrong, making some important saves towards the end of the game. Last season we relied on Jon McLaughlin to bail us out of tough situations, but a few of his performances at the start of this season have raised eyebrows, especially the last time out against Peterborough (Maddison’s free kick comes to mind). Therefore if the Burton game had went ahead it could possibly have been the perfect chance for Burge to come in and impress.
The Peterborough defeat was one to forget - pretty much everything went wrong, from getting beat 3-0, to Maddison scoring two and celebrating in front of our manager, to finishing the game with nine men.
It’s apparent to everyone that an instant response is necessary and perhaps a home game would have been a better and easier way to get everyone back on side quickly. Only time will tell, but it could also be seen that it is a good thing we have had two weeks off with everyone needing time to recover after the horror show at Peterborough.