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Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One

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What the hell went wrong on Saturday?

A home fixture against the bottom of the league side, who’d been trounced by five goals in midweek... new signings galore to select... what could possibly go wrong?! Well, everything as it turned out.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Martin Wanless says...

What went wrong? Pretty much everything. The team selection was horrendous - to make only one change from last week’s hammering and have Matete, Clarke, Roberts and Defoe sat on the bench was criminal. I wouldn’t have started Defoe personally. But the other three certainly should have been in the line up. Big crowd, willing he team on, and we select that XI? I doubt any supporter looked at that line up at 2pm and thought ‘yep, that’s spot on’. So how on earth did the people selecting the team think it was right?

Tactically we were inept, we looked all at sea after the first 15 minutes or so and the lack of confidence was clear after we conceded. Hoffmann should have done better with both goals, and what on earth was Winchester doing playing at the back? If there was the remotest possibility of that happening you’ve chosen the wrong system.

Individually there were a number of players who were poor – Evans and Neil in midfield just isn’t working – maybe we need a three in here? – while Embleton was disappointing once more. When he gets on the ball he can look good, but he just doesn’t influence the game enough or stamp his authority – he’s becoming a luxury player, and one we can ill afford to carry. I suspect he’ll lose his place shortly. Pritchard at least showed some character and tried to drag the team through, and Clarke looked impressive when he game on – although he should have been on from the start, or failing that at half time.

I’ve just watched the post game interview with Mike Dodds, and the performance almost made sense after watching that. There’s no fire there, no determination, no character, and that was evident throughout the team too. Pathetic. He picked the wrong team, set them up in the wrong way, and has to take responsibility for that. He clearly shouldn’t be in that role, and you have to ask serious questions of the people running the football side of the club over letting Johnson go without a decent temporary replacement lined up.

We’ve completely stuffed our automatic chances now, and that surely changes the dynamics of who we bring in as the new head coach, because once again – unless the other teams around us ‘do a Sunderland’ – we’re in the position of play offs at best.

Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
At least Clarke impressed yesterday
Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Mark Carrick says...

What went wrong was the team selection. Then the lack of changes when it was clearly not working!

Playing Winchester as a centre half in a back five was a terrible idea. The only thing worse was having Gooch as right wing back. Winchester works hard, but he’s no centre half. Danny Batth didn’t look comfortable in the system either and Doyle simply needs a rest.

Gooch was just awful, woeful, and terrible as a right wing-back, left winger and as a right back. The sooner the summer comes and his contract expires the better.

It didn’t get much better further up-field. Just one change from the side that got battered at Bolton, so is it any wonder we folded with one ball over the top and a second before half time? Matete looked much better than Evans in the defensive role in second half, as did Clarke over Gooch at left wing. Both should have started the game. Having failed to do so, the time it took to get them on was shocking. Clearly Dodds is here for player development, not managing a football team on a Saturday.

So, poor decisions, poor responses, and simply poor players/caretaker cost us.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One
Gooch was one of many who failed to deliver yesterday
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

From the disaster at Bolton, there were clear and obvious signs where our biggest weakness is – our defence. We should have played three recognised central defenders from the start last week and again this week – although with Flanagan’s exit, that could prove quite difficult to achieve going forward.

What has the new regime been trying to achieve for the past year? Create an exciting, high pressing team. It only works though, if the team have some control over the game. We need someone to take the pressure off, put their foot on the ball in the middle of the park and provide a calming influence. That way our inexperienced left side of defence shouldn’t be caught out, over and over again by a bouncing ball over the top or exposing Batth’s woeful lack of pace.

Our side seemingly have no battle or confidence left in them, and our coaching staff failed to make the decisions required for a better outcome. They must be blind if they haven’t addressed what has been happening to our side over the last 6 matches (with the exception of Pompey). The new head coach has a big job turning these back into promotion contenders, as if our current form continues, we’ll be struggling to make the play-offs.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
We struggled defensively again, this time against a Doncaster team with a woeful goalscoring record
Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Michael Dunne says...

Where do we start?

Rumours were rife all morning that Carl Winchester was starting centre half. As I sipped on my Moretti pre game, I almost spat it out in bemusement at this thought. This set the tone for the day. The line up was absolutely pathetic. Carl Winchester seems to be playing everywhere but his position, the formation was baffling and imbalanced. Lynden Gooch starting was a poor poor call too.

It made no sense to me as to how you can play almost the exact same team that lost 6-0 the week before. Especially with FIVE new signings on the bench. The interim management appeared completely incapable of getting any sort of reaction from the players. The play was tame and essentially more of the same from last week. Doncaster time after time got through us very easily. The defending lacked physicality, control or any sort of composure. Danny Baath looked off the pace, his distribution was what we were told it would be. Extremely poor.

Starting Jermain Defoe on the bench was one of the few decisions that I agreed with from the management. He is nowhere near ready and is also 39 years of age. We cannot succumb to relying on him. That being said, I believe the rest of the calls by the management were wrong with our attacking play. As previously stated, Gooch should not be anywhere near the team. The fact that he started ahead of Roberts, Clarke and Dajaku is a head scratcher.

Furthermore, Ross Stewart was subdued but it wasn’t his fault. The distances between the players were too big and it made it difficult to get him into the game.

Overall, a lot of shit decisions went wrong.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One
It was poor from these two yesterday - there’s no clouding over that.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images
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