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Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Final

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It’s just a load of pants!

Sunderland’s players have been told to “put on their big boys’ pants”, however, given their recent displays do they know where to find them, and do some actually want to?

A new generation - Same old disappointment
| Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

It is clear Alex Neil has told his squad they cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves after two abject displays in which they have mustered two attempts on goal in 180 minutes, admittedly both of which have beaten the opposition keeper.

They look tired and a section of fans have accused certain individuals of being disinterested. Neil has spoken of the problems he has getting a team out on a matchday given their fitness and exhaustion levels.

The boss says there is no time for the players to feel sorry for themselves, and they need to put their big boy pants on and get their heads back on the task at hand, which still remains to get this proud and great club out of the division.

For the young players, the past month has highlighted how tough a game professional football can be. As such they are relying on the coaches and the more experienced heads to guide them through the challenges they face.

Sunderland v Milton Keynes Dons - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Neil admits many are tired, but he can ill afford to give them a rest. I will not believe that these young players are not walking out, backed by our fantastic supporters home and away, and not putting in the effort.

Yes, we have a squad that is at best lop-sided, at worse has been mismanaged in the transfer windows to the point that there are glaring holes that are becoming all too apparent, but they are a talented group of individuals at this level. If proof were needed we only have to look at some of the stand-out performances this year when they have clicked and looked simply too good for this division.

We are not privy to what goes in in the dressing room or the manager’s office but I fear all is not well. When Lee Johnson was sacked, we were told that Kristjaan Speakman had to meet with the players amid talk that some of those who had been brought in by our former coach were less than happy with his departure.

Sunderland v Milton Keynes Dons - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Has this translated to a number of the squad who are not happy with the club and with it have lost the will to see it prosper? We have to very much hope not and it might be that the no-nonsense language that has been delivered by Neil points to his determination to rid any of the squad of such views.

It is interesting that he has been so forthright about the need for the squad to toughen up mentally. He is also clearly frustrated that the areas that he has been working with the team on during the week seem to have been forgotten come match day.

Whichever way you look at things, the club is in dire straits both on and off the pitch. Fans have the right to head to a game with the belief, if not an expectation, that the side can win it. Take that away in the third level of the football pyramid we do not have anything left.

Let’s hope they have found their big boy pants.

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