Andrew Smithson says...
I think the number of young lads in the squad getting their first real run of senior games means we always have to try and keep our feet on the ground, but the Lads can take a lot of encouragement from this evening.
We’ve seen sides from the bottom half of the table come up here and frustrate us on plenty of occasions in the past, but we were ruthless last night and are really starting to make home advantage count.
We began on the front foot and that was very pleasing to see as well; I personally thought we were decent against Oxford United, but there were some boos from elsewhere in the crowd and that may have been in the back of the players’ minds, so for them to play so freely suggests an improving mentality and that Lee Johnson continues to encourage it.
We can be guilty of overcomplicating things at times, but he seems to trust in his philosophy and we need that right now. It might not be perfect, but at least we are trying to establish an identifiable style of play and stick to it.
The use of substitutes suggests a level of pragmatism from Johnson too; with so many games at the moment and little room to mix the starting line up, it made sense to get three important players in Winchester, Stewart and Broadhead off and to give them a slight rest.
I think Bailey Wright deserves a mention as his form lately has been very good and he is looking decent playing further across on the right, but to be fair there were good showings across the board and that can only be good for morale.
Phil West says...
In terms of showing the potential of the team and what we can do when things click, last night was extremely important.
Okay, Morecambe were woefully limited opposition, but the way we approached the game, with a relentless energy and desire to really put them to the sword, was impressive.
This is a promising Sunderland squad, comprised of some exciting if slightly raw younger players and some experienced heads who are really showing their quality.
Alex Pritchard, for example, has really stood out recently, and the way he played against Morecambe bodes really well. The same can be said of Gooch, Broadhead and Dajaku, all of whom were excellent.
If they can continue to improve and deliver consistently, there is no reason that we cannot build a good winning run.
As for Lee Johnson? He would’ve been delighted with what he saw, especially after the frustrating draw against Oxford.
He clearly has great belief in the players, and they are certainly doing their best to deliver for their manager and the fans. Johnson will still have his doubters, but victories like this will do his cause no harm at all, and if we can back it up on Saturday, so much the better!
I watched the “Access All Areas” video posted by the club (I’ve linked it below) in the aftermath of the game last night, and whilst it only really gives us a snippet of what goes on before, during and after a match, it was nice to see the players and staff looking so relaxed.
Bailey Wright seems a great character who is relishing taking up the captain’s armband and leading the side, and he’s obviously enjoying his football - a far cry from where he was at in the summer, when he was out of the team and a move to Wigan looked likely.
It was good to see all of the injured players joining the team in the dressing room at half time - it’s important to keep those guys as part of the squad, even when they can’t contribute on the pitch.
And perhaps most importantly, it was satisfying to see Lee Johnson bumping fists with fans, celebrating with them at the end, and hearing the fans sing his name.
He’s not a robot - he’s human, and he’ll have been hurting from all of the criticism he’s received recently, so I imagine seeing his side steamroll someone in front of the home fans will lift a tremendous weight from his shoulders ahead of another huge game at the weekend.
Hopefully, these are all signs that morale is good, and that we’re heading back to where we were at the start of the season - competing as one of the best teams in League One.
Joseph Tulip says…
In terms of morale, belief, and indeed confidence this performance and result will do us the world of good.
We seemed to pick from where we left off, the second half against Oxford where we didn’t get our just rewards, but this time Morecambe were put to the sword in what was a very impressive display from Sunderland.
After a poor run which has been openly acknowledged by Lee Johnson, we are gradually playing ourselves back into form again. Let’s not get too hung up on the opposition. The fact is Morecambe are in our league this season and we succeeded in both getting the points and significantly boosting our goal difference.
I called for calm and a level headed approach during our poor run, and we must remain on that even keel now as we look ahead to Plymouth on Saturday.
Early in the season Johnson struggled to find a settled XI with such a big squad. Now with injuries and some of our key men playing out of position, we might have found a formula which is effective. Bailey Wright offers solid protection at right back, while still getting forward and is developing a seemingly unimaginable, good understanding with Leon Dajaku down the right.
Lynden Gooch has been a revelation at left back, and in games where we’re on the front foot, it is like having another attacker on the pitch. With Gooch supporting the firing line of Dajaku, Alex Pritchard and Nathan Broadhead, and Dan Neil and Carl Winchester breaking the lines with penetrative passes, Ross Stewart is now getting the service he has craved.
We are a work in progress (when are we not)? Our passing is getting slicker and we’re switching the play to devastating effect. Not every game will be as good as last night, but we know what our lads are capable of with several more still to return from injury.