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Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Sky Bet League One

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ITHICS Fanzine: The signs are Alex Neil is doing a good job - play-offs here we come?!

“I’m not ready to dream of cheesy chips just yet, but I’m not far away” says Mark Egan of ITHICS Fanzine.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

There was some dire football on offer last week at Sunderland, but ultimately we’ll remember the six points, not the performances.

For long stretches of both games against Fleetwood and Crewe we looked static and unimaginative, as two very limited opponents set out to time-waste their way to a 0-0 or 0-1. The first half against Fleetwood was so bad that we could barely drag ourselves off the concourse for the second half - and the Crewe game was almost as poor.

But let’s not forget the six points, and be positive.

The early signs are that Alex Neil knows what he is doing.

I loved his first post-match press conference where he pointed out that we had too many exhausted young players in the team, and too many experienced players who were sitting on the bench because they lacked match practice.

Sunderland v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

He’s doing something about it with his team selections and his substitutions have been effective too. Going to three at the back against Fleetwood was a gamble, as he acknowledged, but it paid off.

Throwing on more attacking players has worked against the weak sides but will it work against the likes of Rotherham, our next opponents at the Stadium of Light?

We need to win at least five of the last eight games to make the play-offs, and it’s still touch and go, because we’re not creating enough chances and we’re making too many mistakes at the back.

But, if we can get those wins we go into the play-offs in good form, which is a rare experience for us.

Yet again we find ourselves researching the dates for the play-off fixtures, and hoping if we do get to the final we can play one of the smaller teams to maximise our allocation.

I’m not ready to dream of cheesy chips, just yet but I’m not far away.


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