Tom Albrighton says...
I think after Jack Ross’ tenure this myth should be dispelled rapidly. For all Sunderland were poor for swathes of Saturday’s game, football only cares about results. Of course, we all want to see aesthetically pleasing football, stuff that excites us and catches the eye, but alas, in League One it may be a desire unfulfilled.
Right now, especially at such an early stage in the season, the priority is undoubtedly to get points on the board, especially given such uncertainty surrounding the continuation of the campaign due to the ongoing pandemic.
Accumulating points is clearly crucial regardless of performance, and with such a long season ahead following a long break, few teams - if any - have begun the new campaign playing to their potential in League One, which reiterates the need to be on the front foot where points on the board are concerned.
However, if points start to come hard to obtain, performances will be brought under increasing scrutiny which highlights the fine balance of performance v result. Many times last season and the preceding season, we saw glimpses of a brand of football that got us the edge of our seat, which only provided a sense of what could have been.
For now, anyway, we should purely focus on building momentum and mentality in preparation for what is set to be a long and uncertain season and worry about style later. After all, as Wycombe have shown, you don’t concern yourself with how you get promoted when you’re celebrating the fact.
Dan Sullivan says...
It’s always nice when you don’t play well and pick up the three points, but we were so lucky on Saturday to get anything at all.
Until Grant Leadbitter put the ball on the spot we didn’t look like we had a chance of scoring. Relying on that kind of luck to paper over poor performances will get us nowhere. By all means, celebrate a cheeky result, but performance is the key to consistency which has been our systemic problem for years now.
We need solid performances far more than we need freakish results like this because over the course of a season a consistent level of performance increases the likelihood of results.
Put it this way - if I find a fiver on the floor, I pick it up. I don’t quit my job hoping that the streets will be littered with cash every time I leave the house!
Philip Butler says...
The early weeks of the season are always games where supporters put more emphasis on performances than is normal. At the moment, Sunderland fans are looking to see whether we will be able to produce the results we have seen in the last two games on a consistent basis to ensure promotion.
If Sunderland had ground out two wins (and two clean sheets) against promotion rivals in December, few fans would care about the performance as long as we were winning those games to keep us in a position at the top of the division.
Overall, I couldn’t care less if Sunderland don’t muster an “expected Goal” for the rest of the season if we keep winning games and climbing up the division. However, it’s unlikely that we can go on a good run of results without putting in good performances.
Games against Oxford and Peterborough aren’t good ones to play well and get beat, but games against the weaker teams will require Sunderland to show more in the attacking third of the pitch than we’ve seen so far this season.
Gary Engel says...
The match on Saturday reminded me of the play-off match against Portsmouth. In fairness, the play-off match had more excitement, over the two legs we beat Portsmouth with just the one goal scored from arguably our only genuine bit of quality in 180 minutes of football. Ultimately, we didn’t have enough to win promotion.
As Gary Bennett said midway through the second half against Peterborough:
We’ll not win promotion playing like this.
Since that play-off semi-final against Portsmouth we are still no further forward, personnel-wise certainly, in terms of goal-threat. Three things that needed addressing were a lack pace and power, especially in forward positions as well as a genuine dangerous goalscorer. We may have three forwards that most of the league would like at their disposal, but we have to turn that into goals not just analyse their past goal tallies on paper.
If we’re not going to add the ingredients that are missing we need to look at changing systems to accommodate two strikers. If we remain strong defensively we’ll always have a chance, and it's okay to win without playing well at times. But we need to start seeing signs that we are better in all areas than in the last two disappointing campaigns.