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Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg

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ITHICS Fanzine: The pressure is on Johnson at Sunderland, now he must make it happen

Mark Egan of ITHICS Fanzine casts his eye over some of the players he wants to see leave this summer, and gives Lee Johnson ‘til October to prove his worth.

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

I started last Saturday’s match slumped on the sofa expecting nothing much. By half time I was on my feet cheering every pass and tackle. At full time I was horizontal. How did we throw it away? How have we spent three seasons at this level without making any progress?

First the positives. When Lee Johnson took over we were drifting down the table and looked like mid-table mediocrities. Johnson brought back McGeady, found out how to get goals from Wyke, and introduced a brighter style of play. We finished the season in a better position than when he took over and, as has so often been the case, we were just slightly short of achieving promotion. I understand the anger being directed at Johnson, it’s born out of frustration, but it’s not particularly reasonable. The lad inherited a failing squad and, with very few changes, turned it around. He could have done better but let’s not ignore what he did achieve.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Having said that, the pressure is on for Johnson to achieve next season. If we’re not looking like automatic promotion candidates by October I’d get rid. He has no excuses this summer to bring in the right players for his style and to get a style of play which suits the squad. The impending clear-out is a God-sent opportunity.

I think we all know where it’s gone wrong. Donald and his mates wanted promotion on the cheap to make a quick buck out of the club so brought in cheap players who have consistently shown themselves to be League One level and no better. We need to bring in players who are good enough for the Championship and want to fight to be there, not more players who are happy enough being 5th in League One.

We need a new keeper. Lee Burge does his best but he’s not good enough. There’s a whole crop of League One players who need to go. Step forward Max Power (who deserves sacking for that last minute shot on Saturday), Tom Flanagan, Josh Scowen, Callum McFadzean. Maguire is surplus to requirements – I’ve never understood the praise he gets, he is inconsistent and has barely performed when played this season.

I’m not convinced by O’Brien. I am definitely not convinced by Wyke. Yes he scored goals this season but he just seems to lack heart and conviction and we can surely do better – I think Stewart looks a better bet, leading the line. We desperately need pace and invention in midfield. Leadbitter will be a squad player next season so we need two or three new players in the middle who can get on the ball and make things happen.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Another year for McGeady at Sunderland
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

I’d offer McGeady another year – he’s in great form and even if he just gives us 20 minutes by early next year he can provide that moment of class which can win a game. We need defenders who are fit and can defend. We need quality.

I want to be excited and interested by the players we bring in. I want experienced players who are Championship quality and are hungry to succeed. And I want young players with energy who want to aim high. We need to start strong and blow this league away, not struggle through another series of 1-1 draws with a manager telling us that Morecambe are tricky to play on a Tuesday night. Now the ownership is sorted out all the focus will be on the pitch. Make it happen.

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