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2 Up, 2 Down: Reviewing Sunderland’s four star classic “Edge of Saturday - McGeady Wyke Repeat”

In this first part of 2 Up, 2 Down, we ask for more positives than the repetitive nature of the McGeady-Wyke combo torturing Doncaster Rovers and for any negatives if they can think of any!

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Paul Fletcher says...

Two Up!

New partnership at the back...

While Wyke and McGeady will deservedly get all the plaudits for our attacking performance, it would be wrong not to highlight how well Dion Sanderson played. When you consider that he’s had limited starts and has often been deployed at full back, his performance at centre back today was outstanding.

Positionally, he was excellent - he read everything well and made tackles, interceptions and clearances when he needed to. Unlike the majority of Sunderland defenders I’ve seen in recent seasons, the sight of him advancing with the ball or taking his time to pick a pass doesn’t fill me with dread.

It’s a refreshing change. Having only just turned 21-years-old, I think this lad has a big future ahead of him. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re watching him play at a much higher level in a few years time, marvelling at the fact that he once pulled on the red and white stripes of Sunderland in League One.

Something to build on...

We played brilliantly in the first half but the second half was such a mess that I honestly can’t tell you whether we played well or not. We conceded a goal and gave away two penalties so that would suggest that we didn’t play all that well.

Nevertheless, the final score shows that we’ve hammered a promotion rival 4-1 and that’s the only stat that counts. Despite recording a comfortable victory, it wasn’t a perfect performance.

We didn’t keep a clean sheet and we could probably have scored more goals. If we build on this result and push on to an even higher level of performance, then there’s no team in this league that can come close to us. But as always with Sunderland, it’s a big, big ‘IF’.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One
Dion Sanderson
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Two Down!

Opportunity missed...

It’s difficult to criticise a manager who has just overseen one of the best Sunderland performances in recent memory. However, I feel Lee Johnson missed a trick by not bringing Dan Neil on at half time.

On the stroke of half time, Luke O’Nien put a slight blemish on an energetic, high quality first half display by getting himself booked. For me, it would have been the perfect opportunity to give Dan Neil a long-overdue run out in the league. I would have brought him on as a straight replacement for O’Nien.

The game was tailor-made for a player like Neil. At 3-0 up, the players around him were brimming with confidence and looking to play football. Doncaster had no choice but to push on and leave gaps. A player of Neil’s ability could have run the show in the middle of the park and really helped us press home our advantage. In doing so he would have gained some valuable experience and confidence to carry into the business end of the season.

A long road to full fitness...

I’m worried about Lynden Gooch. He just doesn’t seem himself at the moment and he hasn’t since he came back from injury. His workrate is there, which is what we’ve come to expect from him.

He played his role pressing the ball and did a lot of work off the ball. On the ball was a different story though. Gooch drifted in and out of the game and when he did get on the ball, he was quite hesitant at times and didn’t always choose the right option. Is it a confidence thing? Is it a fitness thing? Or am I being too harsh? He didn’t perform badly by any means but I still think he’s got a few more gears to move up.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One
Lynden Gooch
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Michael Dunne says...

Two Up!

The obvious...

The continued form of Charlie Wyke is a massive positive. All credit goes to Wyke, he has done something this season that no fan thought was possible. Not only is he a regular goal scorer but his all round game is fantastic. Let’s hope he can keep it up!

The manager...

Lee Johnson’s formation was spot on today. The 4-3-3 set up was key to our victory. The fitness and energy levels and Luke O’Nien and Josh Scowen set the tempo from the very start, while Lynden Gooch and Aiden McGeady especially created chance after chance.

There was a fluidity and freedom to this formation that seemed to suit our players and with Max Power anchoring the midfield and protecting the defence, the balance was perfect. The aim now is for the manager and players to kick on and make this performance a consistent one.

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Aiden O’Brien celebrates his goal for Sunderland at Shrewsbury Town with Charlie Wyke
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Two Down!

What if...?

What was Phil Parkinson thinking leaving McGeady out of these squad for so long? Imagine where we could have been if he was around since the first game of the season ?

Long term problem...

Left back is still a problem for Sunderland. It is evident that teams are targeting that area of the pitch and Callum McFadzean and Jake Vokins’ performances of late have left us fans longing for the return of Denver Hume even more.

Gary Engel says...

Two Up!

Simple, but effective...

Charlie Wyke is on fire! As our lone striker he has confidence to play and score regularly. It’s clear he has heeded instructions that when he’s in the area he stays around the six yard box. Simple, but effective today. Four easy but well taken goals.


A home win, a great result to bounce back from midweek and probably our worst display under Johnson so far. Often it can be the teams bounce back that defines them. Today we showed character, it was the kind of match that when Doncaster pulled one back, in recent seasons might have seen a second half collapse from us.

Especially considering they had two penalties but today we grew stronger and Burge also showed some improvement with the two all-important saves.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One
Lee Johnson receiving a booking during Sunderland’s emphatic win over Doncaster Rovers at the Stadium of Light
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Two Down!

Problem position...

While McGeady is possibly in his best form in the last three seasons, there is no credible left back behind him. If the position continues to be our soft underbelly, I’d prefer to move McLaughlin over to the left than persist with the clumsy McFadzean likely to make a mistake.


Referees in League One need to be given a handbook on the difference between a punishable handball and a case of ball-to-hand. It’s also possible that they’re just making up infringements these days?

Exactly what the first penalty was given for is baffling no matter how many times you watch it. You could argue our defender had the audacity to be bundled into the box in the build-up to falling on the ball. Heaven knows how long VAR would have taken to debate that, if they had it at this level.

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Aiden O’Brien celebrates his goal for Sunderland at Shrewsbury Town with Charlie Wyke
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

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