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Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Beating Ipswich would make all the difference for a Sunderland side in need of a boost!

If we can get some wins back under our belts and some confidence back, we can still get out of this league.

Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

A lot of fans and pundits alike would suggest that it is better to get back out there on the grass and put all the wrongs right when your form has crashed as ours has, but the international break has afforded Lee Johnson some time to take stock of where things are at, and prepare his side for what is a tough game at the weekend.

After the poor show at home to Charlton that started the slide in Sunderland’s form, we just didn’t seem to know how to hit the reset button.

More games may well have simply resulted in more losses, and more pressure on the players and the coaching team - some of it, I will add, was totally deserved as they have been awful front to back - and from the bench on multiple occasions.

With the timing of the international weekend, we gained the chance for the coaching team - and it is a team, as success isn’t just on Johnson’s head - to sit the majority of the team down, and talk calmly and clearly through how that reset in form is effectively executed.

He will have had time to remind them how great they played early on in the season, and will have showed them why they are perfectly capable of resuming that kind of attractive flowing football, void of the nerves and broken communications we have seen of late.

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

Johnson has had time to do his job, to lead the coaching staff, with an arm on the shoulder for some players - or a kick up the arse as appropriate for others.

Hopefully, he will have taken them through a crash course in ignoring social media too, and staying strong in mind and body at times of adversity.

They seemed to need that as much as anything else before this pause in play. He has also got a couple of players back, including Nathan Broadhead, who could be pivotal in the pace and attacking intent we have been missing.

The price I mentioned we have to pay is clear - valid criticism for not competing and winning games is now amplified by less fair criticism now that we have dropped out of the top six, after League One results not impacted by the World Cup qualifications gained points for our rivals in places.

Before we were losing points and form, but now - without kicking a ball very well, or badly, or somewhere in between - we have dropped further away from the automatic promotion slots.

We will also, of course, have extra games backing up which will have to be played later, but if our form resumes, then that may be a worthwhile delay of league action.

Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If we are a tad lucky - and, assuming the club has used the break to maximum effect - this could be the start of our new winning run, which we most certainly need before Christmas and the January window.

If we can get some wins back under our belts and some confidence back, we can still get out of this league - and more importantly, we can confirm what we need in January to kick on from that, rather than wholesale changes that probably aren’t needed.

The season isn’t won by November, but big strides start from December on. Let’s get straight and get back in the mix.

I will add it is very apt that we resume play against Ipswich, who despite buying like crazy last summer had a shocker of a start. Did they sack the manager who they hired last March? No. Because Paul Cook deserves a bit of time. He isn’t on his own in deserving that.


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