Two successive wins is hardly cause to start planning promotion celebrations. However, there are encouraging signs which, along with another trip to Wembley, have the fans starting to believe again in our club. Saturday was the second big win on the trot in the league, and the fourth big league win of Lee Johnson’s short Sunderland career.
It bears some significance when you consider that Phil Parkinson only achieved four big league wins in a year and none this season. If anything it proves the team are not just scraping a win, but can put opponents to the sword - something we have not done on a regular basis since dropping into League One.
What has impressed me in the last two games is that it has not just been the McGeady and Wyke show, but that other players have come to the party too. Against Doncaster, Lee Burge came up with two huge moments to help secure the points with his penalty saves. Against Burton, Lyndon Gooch at long last played well, and Dion Sanderson looked the classiest defender on the pitch.
If Sunderland are to consider themselves serious promotion contenders this season, then we cannot rely on just McGeady and Wyke to produce the goods n every game. Other players have to contribute their own big moments between now and the end of the season. Players who we wouldn’t consider our star, or best players, but nonetheless get long runs as starters in the first team.
We all have our own ideas of ‘the others’ who could step up to the plate and the likes of Power and Leadbitter are capable of having their own strong performances between now and the end of the season.
What would help would be for instance if say Josh Scowen looked the best player in midfield for a couple of games, for Tom Flanagan to shut out the opposition, if Aiden O’Brien got five or more goals between now and the end of the season, or Lynden Gooch was to go on a run of form which we know he is capable for the 7 or 8 games.
Each in itself I would argue are not massive contributions, but they would be significant contributions for a promotion hoping team from players who have not had anything more than average seasons so far.
The mark of the most successful sides is that they have players from all over the pitch who can contribute when it matters. Whether that is a game changing moment or by being the best player in their position in a game. Much like Burge against Doncaster, or Sanderson stepping into the shoes of Bailey Wright and Willis and holding the defence together against Burton.
Two straight wins in the league is nothing in itself. Put together a run of five however, and we start to look like more of a genuine threat.
A look at the form of the teams around and above us shows that only Peterborough are putting any kind of promotion form together with four successive wins.
In short, apart from Peterborough nobody looks like they want it. The time is now - with 18 League games left - for any team with promotion ambition to put a run together and take one of the top two spots.
Sunderland’s next three league fixtures are against Fleetwood, Crewe and Swindon, all teams in the lower half of the table. The challenge should be for us to win them all. Whilst we won't be in the automatic promotion spots, we will have won five straight league games for the first time in over two years and have a base for serious promotion form.
To do it, we need players from all over the pitch to contribute.