Matt Smith says…
One swallow doesn’t make a summer and one failure to handle inclement, to put it mildly, conditions doesn’t make this Sunderland side a fair weather, flat-track bully. Yet this performance has given Johnson a new, unwelcome headache, to add to his more recent one of finding a way to satisfy the legitimate claims for sufficient game time from a large squad of in-form players.
It’s encouraging that he foresaw the challenge of the winter ahead, suggesting that this will test the mettle of his talented but largely untried squad, but a tad worrying that such prescient forewarnings weren’t translated into effective implementation of coping strategies by his much-vaunted leadership team. With 2/3 of this team in the starting 11, in the form of O’Nine, Evans, Flanagan and Wright, there’s clearly room for improvement as far as the synergy between the technical area and the pitch are concerned.
I wasn’t particularly surprised to see Burge not included in the leadership group but I felt he’d have grounds for considering it a snub. With Hoffman performing well, likewise Stewart at the other end, perhaps additional roles of defence and attack ‘leaders’ could come into play further down the line. Having 8 leaders slightly makes a mockery of the term but, with rotation of a largely youthful squad being so important to our season, it has its merits.
It was interesting to note that Johnson hinted at potential complacency in his post-match comments and with, on paper, a favourable October fixture list post-Portsmouth, it’s understandable but not forgivable that a feeling that this was a game they could afford to lose crept in. In that case yesterday did us a favour by posing such an extreme test which should wholly disabuse all players of the notion that they can take such a laissez-faire approach in future.
Lee Johnson reflects on today's defeat at Fratton Park.— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) October 2, 2021
Full interview... pic.twitter.com/bKcxZjd6mO
Joseph Tulip says...
The best thing about yesterday’s game is that we have another in a few days. We always knew there would be hurdles along the way and while this result wasn’t expected, we have to take it on the chin and move on.
In his pre-match press conference, Lee Johnson did say that one training session post-Cheltenham had been a case of “after the Lord mayor’s show”, and that he and his coaching staff had to be assertive to ensure high standards were being maintained.
I’m not suggesting that the players were complacent, but it’s human nature that after such a good run, there can be a feeling of invincibility, even if it is subconscious.
This is a young side that is learning all the time. Portsmouth away in challenging conditions was a failed mission, but the experience will be invaluable for the players as they learn more about each other as a team and squad.
It’s all about character building as we evolve and we can now look ahead to Lincoln on Tuesday, dust ourselves down and make sure we put in a vastly improved performance.
Fair play to Pompey - they deserved their win. But, if we can get back into our stride on Tuesday we can put this behind us and be stronger for the experience.
Michael Dunne says...
There’s not much positive I can say about yesterday.
Our youthful side have been outthought and outfought by a shrewd and a more experienced Pompey team. In no way are Portsmouth a better team than us, but the conditions certainly suited them.
It was a learning lesson for our lads, and I am hoping it was one they won't forget quickly. The game was one where you wanted the leaders to stand up and fight, and also help the younger lads. Unfortunately, these leaders also had poor games.
I do think a lot of players underperformed and I was surprised to see Callum Doyle on the bench again. He has been immense this year and we missed him at the heart of the defence.
It is important to stress and state that we should not criticise this team too much. They have been immense thus far and I fully expect them to bounce back against Gillingham in two weeks.
As the winter sets in, there will be far more games like this.
I am not particularly concerned about this result in the bigger picture, but I do expect players and management alike to learn from yesterday’s drubbing.
Tom Albrighton says...
A shit game in shit conditions in a shit place. That was an absolute anomaly of a result.
The lads never ever got going, and the conditions didn’t really allow it either. Fair play to Portsmouth, who adapted to conditions better than ourselves, but long-ball football just isn’t a priority of Sunderland’s considering we’re still trying to perfect our Plan A.
Aside from turgid performances from certain individuals, there isn’t much to digest. We’ll not play in worse conditions this season and we probably won’t play as badly as that either. Players will invariably lose their shirts on the back of the result - and specifically, Wright and O’Nien should be more concerned than others.
The best thing to do now is to park this result and moving on. It’s a long season and we have plenty of time to put things result right - and in such exceptional circumstances, it’s not worth dwelling on.
Shout out to the referee though, who was utterly spineless.