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Sunderland v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship

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Stick together!

“Momentum and confidence are key in football, both of which we have lost in recent weeks. Reinforcements are incoming - then, let's judge the progress we have made,” writes Kev Barker.

Photo by Cardiff City FC/Getty Images

Consistency keeps alluding us - be it results or playing in patches of games, and overall we need the World Cup break to reset and go again.

Take a look at the Huddersfield game - granted it was scrappy and the weather didn’t help, but until we broke and Pritchard scored we were as bad as I have seen us all season. Simms when he first came on looked rusty but then after the goal, you could see the shift in confidence, assuredness on the ball and willingness to play and be available.

This was the first time this season where we actually got more than we deserved from the game. Too many times we have succumbed to late goals, poor refereeing decisions or lack of finishing touch in front of goal.

Tony Mowbray has admitted to playing too many attacking players and he does need to find the formula and balance to change the current system. Having said that, attacking players win games, flair players get the fans off their seats and I thought the team selection against Cardiff was brave and exciting.

It's just a shame the game plan and execution from the players wasn’t there to match.

Sunderland v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The problem we now have is that at the start of the season expectations were low - fourth off bottom would do having come up from League One and playing against tough experienced Championship teams. We then (despite all of the turmoil early in the season) started well, played some excellent football and after ten games the league looked wide open. It had many fans including myself dreaming about the playoffs and getting drawn into how good we were and what a weak league it was this year.

The injuries have finally caught up with us after an initial spike in performance, the underperforming teams in the league have found their form and its now shaping up to be more competitive and tight - particularly after the midweek results.

The young players need game time to develop and learn, and can only get it by playing and making mistakes. It’s that development, maturity and positional sense which will enable us to kick on next season.

Whatever happens Friday night at Birmingham really doesn’t matter that much, what matters is how we back the players and club. We always say we have the best fans and support in the world but the recent booing, lack of patience and understanding from some sections of the fan base is quite incredible.

Sunderland v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Cardiff City FC/Getty Images

Remember where we have come from, look at the exciting players we have and the big names who have yet to really feature for us and then judge the team and manager come the new year.

If Mowbray fails to get results out of a fully fit and rested squad then we will no doubt invest in January to help plug the gaps that he has inherited.

A better performance Friday and a solid point or even three would be a boon going into the break - then we can moan about how bad England are and how Southgate is too defensive!

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