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2 Up, 2 Down: Fortunate to get a point or two dropped for Sunderland at MK Dons? (Part 2)

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Still can’t decide if it was a point gained or two lost? Our second panel discuss the ups and downs of the second instalment of our week in Milton Keynes - part two!

Milton Keynes Dons v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


Paul Fletcher says...

Two Up!

Looked dangerous going forward...

The tempo of our attacking play on Saturday was vastly improved. McGeady is looking sharper and sharper with every game he plays. When he first came back into the fold, he wasn’t finding those pockets of space that we’re so accustomed to seeing him in.

Yesterday there were so many times that he used his quick feet to find that half a yard of space and either get crosses into the box or play his team mates in. Early signs are that Jones is the player we’ve been crying out for since we came down into League One – fast and direct without being a headless chicken.

O’Brien linked play well and some of Charlie Wyke’s movement was excellent. All really positive signs looking ahead to the rest of the season.

Character building...

We showed some heart, which hasn’t always been something you could say about Sunderland sides in recent times. After throwing away the early lead, we didn’t capitulate and we were by far the better team for large periods of the game.

We kept going, players didn’t shy away from responsibility and we threw everything we had at MK Dons trying to get the winner. The heart we showed as a collective was encouraging to see. I think it also helps to have a manager who doesn’t think a 2-2 away draw at is a good result.

Milton Keynes Dons v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Lee Johnson watching from the sidelines as Sunderland drew 2-2 at MK Dons
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Two Down!

Comedy defending...

We showed heart – but we didn’t show brains. Normally when we go a goal up, we have a tendency to drop deep and defend, which frustrates many supporters. However, I much prefer the ‘drop deep and defend’ approach to the ‘drop deep and not defend’ approach.

What on earth were we doing? Calling it schoolboy would be offensive to schoolboys. It was a comedy of errors from front to back. The pressing went out of the window, the shape went out of the window, the marking was non existent and we just let MK Dons waltz through us.

We had chances to clear the ball, to react to the danger, to attempt last ditch blocks and we just didn’t bother. I can’t find any excuses for slow motion defending that cost us two goals.

Sloppy spells...

The tempo of our attack improved but the end product still left a lot to be desired. We moved the ball with urgency and skill, we stretched their defence and we regularly found ourselves in some great positions. Once we got ourselves into in good positions, our decision making was so poor.

When a shot was the best option, we chose to cross it and when a cross was the best option, we chose to shoot. When a first time shot was the best option, we took extra touches (McGeady being the main culprit). When bringing it down before shooting was the best option, we hit wild first time shots (Power the guilty party here).

With better decision making, we could easily have scored six or seven goals. I can only hope that this area of our game will improve over the coming months. It’s the next piece of the SAFC puzzle that Lee Johnson has to solve.

Milton Keynes Dons v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Aiden McGeady
Photo by John Cripps/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

Two Up!

The return of McGeady...

McGeady is starting to pull some strings and show glimpses of his class. A well-worked early goal from an inch-perfect pass for Wyke just proves what we are going to need for the run-in. As for Wyke’s finish it showed a confidence we haven’t seen from him until recently.

Again, our equaliser came when a lively McGeady worked an another opening for a shot before O’Nien finished nicely. A fit and focused McGeady could prove the difference for us.

Movement...

The confidence and movement in the final third is a work in progress but it is building. We may be off the pace when it comes to chasing a play-off place but we still have some hope if we can continue to improve in the final third under Johnson’s management.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Lee Burge
Photo by Richard Calver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Down!

Goalkeeping woes...

But for Lee Burge to flap at both of MK Dons’ first-half goals we might have been celebrating three points. To let in one goal was unfortunate, but with no command of his area whatsoever, Burge brought back memories of Sunderland’s woeful keepers of the recent past.

Going forward whatever the outcome to this season, a new number one is a must in the summer.

Settled back four...

Injuries permitting we need a fit and settled back four. It is just like Sunderland to start scoring goals only to start to leak them at the other end. The only thing that can rectify that is cohesion.