Well... we don’t do things by halves, do we?
Last night was really poor. It marked the end of a ten-game unbeaten run that has seen us play some absolutely fantastic football, but the performance against Lincoln was properly desperate, and a really frustrating one to take.
I always say to my mates that you can usually tell how a Sunderland game is going to go based on the first five minutes, and given that Lincoln pressed the hell out of us and really worked hard off the ball, I knew we’d be in for a tough evening.
That said, it really doesn’t help when you gift your opponents three easy goals.
We fell asleep for their first, gave away a frustrating penalty for the second when someone really ought to have halted play a lot sooner than when the ball ended up in the box, and as for the third... well, it was a moment of calamity that summed up Lynden Gooch’s terrible performance on the night, with the American air-shotting the ball before doubling up on the wrong player as Lincoln broke away to score.
Just to make things even worse, former Sunderland forward Chris Maguire was the man who got the hattrick, and he rubbed it right in our faces - though, he could count himself lucky that he was even still on the pitch following his horrible tackle on Carl Winchester when the game was still at 0-0.
That was awful. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Every team can have an off night and #SAFC had put together a 10-game unbeaten league run, playing some very good football in the process. So it's not the end of the world. But Sweet Baby Jesus that was truly awful— Simon O'Rourke (@sorourkeITV) January 11, 2022
The fracas that ensued at full time, resulting in an unfair sending-off for our manager, capped off what was a thoroughly shit night for everyone on Wearside - well, except for the couple of hundred Lincoln fans who made the trip up for the game.
I actually thought for the most part that we showed plenty of effort, desire and fight, but our quality was sorely lacking. The zip that we usually have about our play wasn’t there, and the anxious tension inside the stadium only worsened with every misplaced pass and frustrating stoppage in play.
Our biggest weaknesses in the side were repeatedly exposed, and our worst two players (I won’t name names out of respect, because they don’t really need me to remind them how shite they were) had probably their worst games of the season.
The quality that is usually there, just wasn’t.
We are clearly missing Hoffmann and Dajaku, both of whom are better than the two lads we’ve brought back off loan to replace them. Corry Evans was a miss in the middle as well - I don’t think we’d have been repeatedly carved open through the middle had he been on the pitch, nor would he have allowed Maguire the opportunity to drop into that gap between our midfield and defence to dictate play.
If I was going to extract any positives at all, yet again it would be to give Ross Stewart an enormous pat on the back for grafting his tits off up and down the park, doing everything he could to get his team into the game. If only we could clone him somehow, because if you had eleven of Ross Stewart in your squad you’d be more than alright.
Otherwise, I think I’m going to heed the words of Lee Johnson from his post-match interview on the club website - we just need to write that one off and move on very quickly.
It’s probably hard to digest this right now for some people, but it’s vitally important that we don’t overreact to the result.
It was inevitable that we were going to lose eventually - it just so happens we managed to do it in spectacular style, with a former player scoring the goals. So, it stings a bit.
What’s clear is that we look tired, we need some fresh blood injected into the squad - both in the form of new acquisitions, and players returning from injury and illness - and that we need to get back to winning ways... starting with Accrington on Saturday.