Full time on Saturday marked the end of Lee Johnson’s first match in the Sunderland dugout; it was also, arguably, our worst result of the season.
Wigan came to Wearside with just two wins from just 14 matches, seemingly making ideal opposition for a new manager and a great chance to kick-start a promotion push. However, Sunderland being Sunderland, the afternoon ended in misery.
After the 1-0 defeat to Wigan, Sunderland have now played two of the current bottom three at home and have picked up just a single point. Add into this a 2-1 defeat to 17th placed MK Dons and you get a lot of dropped points against some of the poorest sides in the division.
For many, the Wigan match would have been the first in a while where they felt genuinely optimistic in the lead up to kick off. We could be forgiven for hoping for a new manager bounce, but it wasn’t to be. Wigan turned up, got an early goal and sat back. They came with a game plan and, thanks to another toothless display from our attackers, it worked.
The return of Aidan McGeady was another boost during the pre match build up. Like him or not, he is still perhaps our most creative player. Whatever issues he had with the previous management have obviously disappeared, and he may be given the mantle of ‘the main man’ once again. He couldn’t create anything today, but to be honest I think Cristiano Ronaldo would struggle to help our strikers these days.
For me, the appointment of Lee Johnson is a very positive move. Along with the recruitment of Kristjaan Speakman as Sporting Director, the club has made a positive step towards building a team which can finally get us out of this truly awful league.
We have things to look forward to, I truly believe we do, but promotion feels a hell of a long way away after the last two games. Our squad looked devoid of any real passion and moral at the moment, and post match comments suggested that settling for mediocrity was creeping into the players. This needs to be dealt with immediately by the new regime.
Yes, we do not have a divine right to walk the league, but we as fans cant be mocked for at least wanting more from our team. The defeat to Wigan won’t define our season, but it does sum up how we are stumbling through a third League One campaign.
The fans of this club deserve better. Losing at home to a side who are rock bottom of the lowest division we have ever played in is abysmal, and it can’t be overlooked. We face the current top two, Hull and Lincoln, this month in matches which could give us a real indication of how we are shaping up ahead of the January transfer window.
Repeat the Wigan performance and who knows where we could lie in the table at the start of 2021.
Saturday’s performance will have given Johnson a lot to ponder and all that is left to say to our new boss is good luck; you will probably need it.