Damian Brown says...
- Points on the board, and I’m told one of our best starts to the season in modern history. We haven’t lost half a dozen players only to find that we don’t have a functioning team that can compete at this level without intense coaching or emergency transfer business, which is an unusual occurrence for those of us who have grown used to both.
The players we have brought in have hit the ground running, at least in a sense of what’s expected of them at this point. There are no clear flops and a good performance and (if meagre) goal from a striker that was playing second fiddle last season will calm some nerves.
- An off-season and pre-season clearly isn’t enough to hone a team with a true cutting edge. It’s clear that our new arrivals need to bed in further, though that’s probably fair to expect and hopefully, we’ll see further evidence of it in coming weeks.
- Lee Johnson still doesn’t fill the average Sunderland fan with confidence. It’s clear from his relatively and comparatively successful stint so far that he has the charisma to guide Sunderland to higher levels, but as a tactician, he leaves much to be desired. Whether that’s due to his youth, or a fundamental flaw exists in his capacity as a coach to have more than one plan for any given game, we simply don’t know yet. Fortunately with points comes more time for the entire club as a whole, not simply new players. If LJ managed for another ten years he would only become better as experience inexorably seeps into his psyche, but as it stands, I have to hope that we see something greater than a one-trick pony sooner rather than later.
Kelvin Beattie says...
- Another goal and good performance from the Loch Ness Drogba augers well for the season. I am particularly enjoying his work rate and mobility, as he works himself into his role at Sunderland. Comparisons with Quinny or Mel Holden are for me inaccurate - the LND is quicker across the ground than both of these big lads were. I mentioned this last week and I’m happy to do so again, but Stewart is an intelligent presser of the opposition and has shown good judgement and stamina for this element of his role. He has made a great start to the season.
- We keep our winning run going in what was an ugly win and a fairly solid team performance against one of the dark horses for the play-offs. Neil and Winchester deserve a mention in despatches for putting a really good shift in, as well as doing some good work with the ball going forward. Embleton displayed a touch of calm class for his goal, which gets him up and running for the season. I am not Flanno’s biggest fan, but he has had two steady games defensively. Cirkin made a reasonable debut and showed enough to indicate there is more good stuff to come.
- The substitution of Corry Evans with an apparent injury was a little worrying. Evans has been quietly effective, and apart from his sensible use of the ball, makes some canny challenges. Let's hope it's nothing too serious.
- Similar to last week's game, Johnson employed his “hold what we have” strategy for the last ten minutes. This strategy does nothing for the stress levels of most of us! I would say that 56 years of watching Sunderland makes me think that this kind of strategy is not really in our DNA. That said, we have maximum points from the first two league games.
Ant Waterson says...
- Ross Stewart scored again. Considering he’s our only decent striker at the moment, the lad is doing so well. He scored with a real poacher’s finish, and again won us a penalty by being a total nuisance. Rosscoe has got a lot of ability, and is going to thrive on the service he is going to get.
- Elliot Embleton. I’ve gone on about this on the podcast a lot, but I have a lot of vested interest in Elliot - he’s a lad from the same village as me, and I played footy with his dad. I know this goal will have meant so much to him and his family and I expect this to be the first many.
- Lee Burge. Not for the first time, Burge looked very nervous, and it wasn’t a surprise when he made his error which led to MK Dons nabbing a goal. Anthony Patterson must surely be breathing down his neck now.
- Corry Evans’ injury. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious as that would be a blow. Dan Neil did a great job today, but we can’t be relying on an 18-year-old to carry us through the next few games. Hopefully, Luke O’Nien will be fit for Tuesday.