I’m torn on it.
Obviously, it’s one game less for Ross Stewart and Dennis Cirkin to miss - presumably, it’ll be rescheduled for the new year - but losing to Middlesbrough on Monday with a relatively disappointing performance alongside it was a bit of a blow to our confidence.
The best way to get back on the horse and back to our best is to play another game as soon as possible. Knowing the character of this squad of players, they would’ve been relishing the chance to put things right in front of an expectant home crowd this weekend.
Instead, they’ll probably be reporting in at the Academy of Light and getting more minutes on the training pitch with the new gaffer - which can only be a good thing as he tries to get his ideas across and learns more about his new players - but it’s not quite the same as playing a proper game in front of 40,000 people, with all of the noise and expectation that comes with it.
I’m not as down on Ellis Simms as some fans and I was actually really looking forward to seeing how we were going to try and shape up in the absence of Stewart and Cirkin, so I’m disappointed.
It’s not the end of the world but I’d much rather be watching the Lads in action, particularly the youngsters who were likely set to get a proper chance to shine in front of the home support.
Malc Dugdale says...
I’m not torn whatsoever.
If we have a gap in the schedule that means Ross Stewart and Dennis Cirkin miss fewer games, and that allows them to get pretty much back to fitness, that has to be a good thing.
Stewart has been integral to our success since he first got fit after signing. He made the loss of Charlie Wyke look like a walk in the park, and although it isn’t great for a team to rotate around one player, when we do we are at our best- as we showed in League One and in the Championship so far.
Away from the players, the time afforded to Tony Mowbray will be a welcome chance to consider how we manage for the games in which we have to cope without Stewart as well. Mowbray will likely review his tactics, our strengths and weaknesses, as well as options for others to step in. He may also play a few games behind closed doors, to see how things look.
The impact on our form and how we played against Boro was sizeable, but I think that was amplified by the fact that we lost a key player minutes before kickoff. We have been given some time to regroup and reset, and the one thing that was totally against us- time to address these challenges- is now in our favour.
If there is something of a silver lining to the knock-on effects of the sad loss of our monarch, it could be the extra four to six points we could end up collecting following this break in games, which could make all the difference later in the season.
Good luck to the King (not Chris Maguire) and let’s respect the situation as tradition and history suggests, but hopefully with this pause in the action, we can come out on the other side in better shape than we would have been by playing Millwall this weekend.
Ewan Bowman says...
I think it could be hugely beneficial from both Tony Mowbray and Sunderland’s points of view to have more time on the training ground.
Firstly for Mowbray, he has just come into the role, and both he and his predecessor have contrasting playing styles.
We have a lot of attacking players in Ross Stewart (when fit), Ellis Simms, Jack Clarke, Patrick Roberts, Alex Pritchard, Leon Dajaku and Amad Diallo. What was clear on Monday night, however, was without Stewart, we really lacked cutting edge and never looked like scoring.
With that in mind, Mowbray will want to put his stamp and ideology on this team throughout the pause in the schedule.
In terms of Sunderland, the more games that are called off, the fewer games that Cirkin and Stewart will miss. I feel that these two have been the most improved Sunderland players in the last twelve months, and we need them back as soon as possible, so that we can continue the overall positive start to our season.
Other players will be keen to take their chances in Cirkin and Stewart’s absence, but having those two back playing and quickly will be the key.