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Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - AESSEAL New York Stadium

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Two Up, Two Down: What were the big positives & negatives from Sunderland’s loss at Rotherham?

The Lads fell to a disappointing defeat against a former League One rival on Tuesday night. What did our writers make of the game?

Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

Gav says…

Patrick Roberts shows his worth

I’m not really sure what the thinking was behind dropping a lad who’s been one of our best players for the last few weeks, but Roberts was superb when he came on, proving just how good he is and how important he is to the overall performance of the team.

Several players weren’t at the races and I have to wonder how much that had to do with Roberts being demoted to the bench, but his impact when he came on was noticeable and you’d hope that means the head coach will think twice about dropping him next time around.

More brilliant away support

It was another sold-out away end from the Sunderland faithful.

We’ve got the best away following in the land and given the relatively short distance, I’ve got no doubt that we could’ve sold that ground out on our own if the tickets had been offered up.

They deserved so much more than what they got from the players, which isn’t something that we have to say very often.

Too many poor individual performances

Amad, Alex Pritchard, Dan Neil, Dennis Cirkin, Danny Batth, Edouard Michut, Jack Clarke and Joe Gelhardt just weren’t at it, and particularly Neil and Amad, who had probably their worst games for us this season.

We’re allowed an off night every so often so let’s just hope they put it right on Saturday, although I suspect Amad could use a proper rest after a couple of tired-looking performances from him.

Tony Mowbray’s team selection

I’m not often critical of Mowbray’s selections and tactics but I think he got it badly wrong at Rotherham.

I understand that we’re a better footballing side than most of the teams in this league, but it felt slightly arrogant that we selected two ball players in midfield for a game where we knew we’d have to get stuck in to a physical battle.

I don’t think we would’ve lost that game with Luke O’Nien and Pierre Ekwah in midfield, as the centre of the park was where the game was won and lost.

Sunderland v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says…

Joe Gelhardt gets off the mark

It’s hard to find the positives after a loss sometimes, but seeing Gelhardt score is an obvious plus.

It felt as if a goal had been coming for the lad, and now he’s opened his account I think he might start flying.

Battling until the end

To lose to such an out-of-form side is really frustrating, but at least we kept going instead of just accepting defeat.

Tony Mowbray made some clever substitutions and Patrick Roberts in particular was superb.

It was a pretty mad final twenty minutes or so, and yet we were unlucky not to snatch something late on.

Is a heavy schedule catching up with us?

There’s been a lot of talk about resting players but getting the balance right is never easy.

Ideally, we could do with the whole squad getting a break, because although the work rate was still high against Rotherham, there were signs of fatigue and I think that had a bearing on some of the crucial moments.

Trying not to get too down

I certainly wasn’t expecting defeat. It’s been a while since we lost on the road and I fancied us to do well.

However, losing reminds us that we need to keep our feet on the ground. We’ve got a young team so results will fluctuate even though we have a lot of promise, and you never know when things might not go to plan.

It’s been very enjoyable of late watching the Lads try and progress, but as a Sunderland fan you have to be hardened to the knocks.

I’m gutted to have lost but will be trying to remember the good things between now and Coventry City.

Malc Dugdale says…

A first goal for Joe Gelhardt

He should’ve had more but maybe a small positive is that he’s broken his duck and may now score more.

It’s a stretch, as on another day he should’ve had a hat trick!

Lessons from the loss

We must surely have learned that we can only tinker and rotate so much and get away with it.

We need to learn huge lessons from it so that it doesn’t happen again.

Poor team selection and tactics

For me, the team picked by Tony Mowbray and the formation we adopted were both wrong.

He gets it right a lot of the time but this was the direct opposite.

Literally everyone played badly for the majority of the game and the understanding, interplay, pressing and general intensity were all non-existent.

You don’t take a good team and play so poorly without the shape and tactics being a big factor.

Missed chances

Despite a terrible performance, we had ample chances to take at least a point but we just about missed them all.

Joe Gelhardt should have had a hat trick, Dan Ballard should’ve equalised soon after their first, Alex Pritchard was unlucky to be denied by a great save and Aji Alese could’ve shot in the box.

Yes, Rotherham hit the post but with no Ross Stewart, the others need to chip in when chances arise and we were wasteful and sloppy. We can’t always have a wonder goal from Jack Clarke to fall back on.

Please never drop Patrick Roberts again. He was the only player who emerged from that game with any credit.

Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - AESSEAL New York Stadium Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images


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