Before each of our last four or five games (...to be honest it could be more, I’ve lost count) I’ve basically gone into them with the same message - let’s just win this next game.
Let’s just win it by any means possible.
Let’s just scrape a 1-0 if we have to, with a shot going in off Corry Evans’ arse... a win is a win and given how bad our form is, a mundane performance is nothing to be sniffed at if it’s accompanied by three points.
I’m just stating the obvious here though - there’s nothing we can do or say at this stage to influence results.
Sure, the atmosphere inside the ground isn’t great at the minute, but who can blame people for feeling pissed off? Who can blame fans for streaming out early, or groaning at every misplaced pass? We’ve been shite for ages and the players aren’t doing their bit on the pitch. We’ve turned up in our droves all season and even in front of massive crowds, they’ve shit the bed - it can’t be said that the supporters haven’t met their end of the bargain.
So, for once, it’s about time we just cut the crap - the players have to pull their f**king fingers out and start doing their jobs. If you can’t deal with the pressure of playing at home against Burton Albion then, quite frankly, you ought to go and find another profession.
Alex Neil rightly told his players that they have to strap on their big boy pants in the aftermath of the MK Dons defeat, and whilst it’s nice to hear him speak with honesty and clarity when it comes to our situation, talk is ultimately very cheap.
Neil himself has to learn quickly from his own mistakes though, because some of the decisions he made at the weekend did nothing to help our cause - he has to get the team selection spot on tonight, and that should start with him dropping players who are quite clearly flagging.
Dennis Cirkin, Callum Doyle and Dan Neil need to be taken out of the firing line, not only for their own good but for the good of the team. It’s helping nobody when we leave these lads exposed, and even if it means making a couple of unusual decisions, Neil has to find a way of operating whilst giving these lads a stint out of the team.
Burton are a proper bogey team for us, especially at home.
In our last four games against them at the Stadium of Light we’ve failed to win any, so really we could do without playing them.
They’re sat bang in the middle of the table and have nothing to lose. They’ll be relishing the chance to come up here and harm our promotion chances even further.
They were well beaten by Ipswich at the weekend by three goals to nil, but Jimmy Flloyd Hasselbaink is experienced in this game, and I’m sure that he won’t dwell too much on that result - he’ll be very much focused on the opportunity to come to Wearside and do what MK Dons, Lincoln and Doncaster have done already this season - to frustrate the life out of us, expose our terrible defending and snatch three points away in front of a big crowd.
All the pressure is on our players to perform tonight, and do you know what - good! Only they can do anything about it, and now it’s time that they started earning their pennies.
Failure to win against Burton throws Sunderland’s chances of even making the play-off places into further doubt - and with time running out, there can be no more excuses.
So earn your keep, ‘strap on your big boy pants’ and get the job done Lads, by hook or by crook, because another loss will be like a dagger to the heart - and I’m not sure we’ll recover.