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Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Sunderland AFC and a dire day in South Yorkshire

Why our visit to Rotherham was an absolute shambles; and why it cannot be repeated...

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

We’ve all followed Sunderland AFC long enough to know that they are never more than a couple of games away from a complete meltdown.

This season our performances started to suggest that maybe this sense of implosion was becoming a thing of the past, but this confident stance has all been completely blown out of the water by one trip to South Yorkshire.

The carnage that unfolded at the New York Stadium was hard to swallow initially, and even hours later it’s hard to fathom how we could fall apart so spectacularly at the hands of a promotion rival.

Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It would be easy to say that this was a ‘typical Sunderland’ performance, but the truth is this just doesn’t cut it anymore.

These days of an absolute battering would be forgivable in the Premier League, they would be semi-acceptable in that horrendous Championship campaign of a few years ago, but to concede five goals in a League One match is something that cannot just be brushed over as something that is acceptable for Sunderland AFC.

The debrief of the horror show at Rotherham should be a swift and decisive one, for the season is still barely three months old, but getting to the bottom of how we got torn to shreds and looked clueless in the process is a must for Lee Johnson and his coaching staff.

Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

We had an excellent summer transfer window in comparison to recent years, and Johnson put together a squad that, on paper, should have more than enough to get us out of the third tier.

Watching back what happened down at Rotherham, it looked as though we’d backtracked over weeks of hard work and went down with little more than a whimper against a physical footballing side.

The rough edge that you probably need to get out of League One is something we’ve never really had and, while we’ve played some of our most attractive football since dropping into this godforsaken level during this campaign, we don’t have a lot of guile in our ranks.

Let’s not beat around the bush, what happened in South Yorkshire was absolutely embarrassing. Over 2,500 SAFC fans made the journey and were treated to a prime example of how to be f*****g useless at football.

Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland AFC as a club, while not having the god-given right to walk this league, should not be getting outplayed and outmuscled by another side in this division to the extent that we did yesterday.

It was utterly unacceptable, but the performance and result needs to be used as a sounding board for how to not play this season. One or two more displays like this and all of the early season optimism and momentum will be well and truly drained.

It’s important not to dwell on this result too much, but we simply can’t have a repeat of it. The games come thick and fast and we all need to have faith in Johnson, the coaching staff and the players to get us back on track ASAP, starting at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.


Pause for thought


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