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Fleetwood Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Talking Points: Sunderland must find different ways to see out the win, or more pain awaits

We look at the talking points from Saturday’s draw with Fleetwood. What are the alternatives to constantly sitting deep? A reminder to trust the process, and a good day for the Hoff...

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Has Hoffman demonstrated he is head and shoulders above the competition?

Yes, the two points dropped are disappointing, but the performance of Thorben Hoffman in goal was very promising. It is no stretch to say that against lesser keepers, Fleetwood would have had scored a couple before the 81st minute anyway, was it not for some superb saves from the big German.

A week’s full training with the rest of the squad has clearly paid dividends, and Johnson’s decision to throw the 22-year old in straight away appears justified.

The challenge now is for him to organise the defence so he can be afforded more protection - as so far he’s been left a little too exposed.

Sunderland v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland’s game management must be better

Whether it was a penalty or not has split opinion.

However, for the umpteenth game this season we have sat too deep going into the final ten minutes - you cannot do this and expect to come away unscathed every time; clearly, there are times when there are better ways to manage games, and Saturday was one of them, despite it being the game where it was least necessary.

The fact that Sunderland allow so many balls to be pumped into the box - we saw this against Accrington - means something will eventually stick. In whatever way you choose to unpack it, if you do not win a game when two goals up with 10 minutes left, it is not acceptable.

Lee Johnson made a point of saying he was not pleased with the way we played in the final 20 minutes the previous week, and this was not only a continuation of that - it was worse.

They must find alternative ways to see out games than to sit deep every time.

In his book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, astronaut Chris Hadfield talks about identifying the myriad of risks that could occur when going into space; only then by identifying those risks can you properly manage and minimise them, to give the greatest probability that they do not occur.

The same applies to sitting on a one, or even two, goal lead - the build up to the penalty was far too slack. Not enough pressure on the cross into the box, and Wright allowed his marker too much room for manoeuvre, giving the referee a decision to make.

It may or may not have been a penalty - ultimately Sunderland should never have been in that position in the first place.

Fleetwood Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

A chance for Sunderland to react positively?

This coming week is an opportunity for Sunderland to manage a different feeling in the camp - disappointment.

There are two types of goals that stick in the throat. Top of the list is injustice - followed hot on its heels by avoidable concessions. The only positive the latter category has is that there is a chance to put it right because the focus is on performance rather than officiating.

The squad must use that as fuel in a positive manner to get three points against Bolton. Stewing on things won’t help, but if it can help to build a siege mentality, then all the better.

Fleetwood Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Supporters must remember to trust the process

It gives me a lot of comfort, no offence, to know my anguish at conceding a last-second equaliser is shared by tens of thousands of us up and down the country.

Some may even suggest by the reaction of the worst of all barometers - Twitter - that the world was ending. It was not.

However, it is vitally important this season that the reactions to defeat, or disappointing draws, or poor performances, or whatever line Lee Johnson says this week that annoys you, that it isn’t over the top.

This result has not derailed the season, or even come close to diverting the team from its objective. At the very most it should be a reminder that victories rarely come easy.

The bottom line is that this side is still very much on track after a promising start to the campaign.


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