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Wigan Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Roker Roundtable: The morning after the night before

Sunderland’s automatic promotion hopes took a dive off Wigan Pier last night – but it’s the morning after the night before. So, how are we all feeling?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

A few weeks ago I was banging Sunderland’s promotion drum, my logic was based on the number of first team players we were due to have back for the run-in. Well, those players have started their long-awaited come backs.

But it’s now clear that hasn’t worked in our favour the last two matches as we’d have hoped.

Teams have figured us out to an extent, our weaknesses are being exploited and I feel that is partly due to the fact Lee Johnson does not know his best side.

We lack the right player to put up alongside Wyke, which would allow us to hold onto possession high up the field. It was quite obvious when Wigan were coming into the match more, how Wyke was isolated and unable to have any effect on the game.

It is still in our hands, in terms of promotion via the play-offs. But play as we have done in the last two matches, and we’ll not see Wembley, let alone the Championship...

Wigan Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Despite netting, Wyke was isolated for long spells yesterday
Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says...

I thought the performance was going to be a decent one when we went one up and Charlie broke his recent duck, but a few things changed that.

The first was the attitude and application of the players. After the goal, we switched off on yet another set piece and let them back into it way too softly. Once again as per the last game, the goal has come from in or around Luke O’Nien. Even when he has Bailey Wright and Dion Sanderson around him he is being exposed for the non-defender he is, after he has pretended to be one so well, for so long.

The second goal also came from a ball to a wide left attacker in acres of space, round about where the right back should be... and we know who was right back don’t we?

We have to get our defence filled with defenders and get Luke up the field. We have been found out and are paying for it big time as both Charlton and Wigan have made Luke look frail and vulnerable. That isn’t his fault, but it has to be sorted ASAP.

The other thing that spoiled the evening was the subs made by the manager in the second half. I thought the four sub move was quite ballsy after months of Parky never using one till minute 88, but in the last two matches they have smacked less of tactical nous and more of a desperate act to get something from a crap team performance. Tell me what modern data suggested that was a good tactical decision? We really need to recall what our primary and backup tactics are and work them, not lose concentration with the basics, fluff our lines and resort to mass changes that do more harm than good.

On promotion chances, for me we are now out of the autos unless one of the two teams above us totally chokes under the pressure. Given recent results I can’t see that happening, but then people may have said that about Sunderland three or four fixtures ago. Only time will tell.

I’m now resigned to watching the play offs at best, and I am in parallel resting my faith on a huge rebuild this summer, whether we steal a slot one league up or not.

We will not survive in the Championship with a team that can fluctuate in output as these lads do, so major change is coming to our squad this summer, whatever the outcome in mid May.

Go on lads, prove me wrong – though I’m no longer sure you can.

Wigan Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One - DW Stadium
Did O’Nien’s defensive duties run their course last night?
Photo by Simon Marper/PA Images via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says...

The inclusion of Bailey Wright signalled we were ready to address our recent defensive issues, but again we were incapable of dealing with set pieces. At the other end Johnson continued to rotate his attacking options, but while Jack Diamond was bright in the early stages, overall we were flat and desperately lacked energy and movement.

Perhaps our 12 game unbeaten run has taken its toll, but the the elephant in the room is Chris Maguire. He’s a classy performer who has proved his worth time and time again with game changing goals and assists. Maguire doesn’t appear to be part of Johnson’s long term plans and could be on the move at the season’s end, but he should be brought back into the fold give us new impetus.

The lack of sound on the live stream from the DW Stadium seemed to make this game even more demoralising.

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Anyone seen Chris?
Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Matt Smith says...

April was always going to be tough, but it feels like the Hull and Tangerine games have distorted focus from the immediate task at hand. Wigan had a big win in their last outing and Charlton were on a decent run, we needed to be at the races for these. Hull and Posh could similarly slip up in their ‘easy’ games in the run-in but, with less pressure, they’re less likely to do so now. That makes the missed opportunities even more damaging to our rapidly fading chances of automatic promotion.

Wigan Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Missed opportunities will cost us
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Ant Waterson says...

Personally I think we are out of it now. Long term, allowing Parkinson as long as we did has cost us. Lee Johnson has done well to get us even dreaming about promotion, but the last three games we haven’t been good enough. Last night’s performance was awful, how we have managed to lose a game from being 1 0 up against a team facing relegation is criminal. What is worse is we looked second best for long periods. We need to sort it out fast because we need to be winning games again even if it means going into the playoffs with a bit of form.

Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
The job Johnson’s done so far shouldn’t be under estimated.
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says...

It is testament to how far we have improved under Lee Johnson, that I feel a huge sense of disappointment and frustration at the Wigan defeat. I was managing defeat and poor performance in an almost adult fashion during Parkinson’s tenure, I was getting plenty of practice. The end of the Wigan game saw the return of the “I cannot speak to anyone right now, I am leaving for a darkened room, I may be gone some time - DO NOT DISTURB ME!”

I believe a number of variables have collided at Wigan to trigger the return of the “darkened room”.

The late addition of Wright to the starting line up, meant that instead of probably giving him a run out at some point, he had to play the whole game. Inevitably he looked rusty and not quite at the pace of the game. Probably influenced by the change in defence, the much lauded Sanderson saved his worst performance of the season for this game.

If under Johnson we have found a way to play badly and win games, arguably the last two games have proved we can play well for half an hour and lose. With an attacking looking selection, I thought we quickly got going and played some quick neat pressing football. We deserved our lead and at that point it looked like there would only be one winner.

That we did not push on and win the game emphatically is another characteristic of this team, who it would appear like to keep us all on tenterhooks.

Our central midfield pairing were not particularly dominating the game at any stage, Scowen enjoys Johnson’s confidence, but he needs to be much more consistent if he is going to be an effective championship player. I was a tad baffled at Winchester’s removal from the squad, if no injury/ illness/ personal issue then for me this was an error of team selection.

McGeady in the 10 role looked like paying off till Wigan scored. Like a number of his colleagues he faded badly in the second half. Hume and O’Nien had done well in the first half, I found the positional changes in the second half baffling.

I have applauded Johnson’s willingness to use subs in previous games (albeit the Charlton debacle probably contributed to our defeat). The four substitutions made against Wigan, were a gamble that never looked like paying off.

Stewart and Wyke up front may remind some of Dichio and Quinn, or for those of us of a certain vintage Holden and Lee... the two current big lads are not as good, though should be good enough to do some damage in League One. If we are going to play them together up front, taking off two wingers and continuing to play the only genuine winger on the pitch at 10, once again seemed baffling!

McFadzean for Hume, was not baffling it was wrong and that should be the end of any such daftness moving forward.

So there you have it. Here I am in a darkened room baffled frustrated and disappointed. Reminiscing over the silky football we played when Holden and Lee spearheaded our attack.

Wigan Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Diamond impressed in the first half
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Hume and Diamond played well and looked like they were working in tandem during our good spell in the first half. O’Nien proved he can play right back and be a threat offensively. These were, I decided in the darkness of my fume room, positives from the performance.

One last throw of the dice re automatic promotion in the next two games (pending other results) and then its the dreaded play offs if we do not go in to complete meltdown.

We have gotten our Wembley monkey off our backs with the Papa John’s victory... maybe just maybe there is hope.

If you don’t mind though, just leave that light off for another hour or two, I am not quite ready to resume my place in polite society!


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