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Coventry City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Roker Roundtable: Rest and rotation? Addressing Sunderland’s lack of spark

During their last two games, the Lads have looked lethargic and short of confidence, so how key is the break between games, and how can Tony Mowbray address it as we prepare for the visit of Stoke?

Photo by Martin swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Gav says…

To be honest, it totally depends on who Mowbray selects to start on Saturday.

Whilst the Stoke game is different from the past two games as we’re playing at home, I think there’s still a need for a more physical presence in midfield, but all the indicators recently have been that Edouard Michut and Dan Neil are his preferred choice.

The whole team looked in need of a break after the Coventry game and I’m not even sure whether seven days off will fix the problems we have with mental fatigue.

The temptation to properly rest Neil, Amad, Jack Clarke and any number of other players exists, but the issue is whether or not Mowbray trusts the players that we have in reserve, and I suspect he doesn’t.

One thing Mowbray did say recently that intrigued me was that because of the ridiculous frequency of recent games, we simply haven’t been able to do proper recovery sessions or game debriefs with the players.

That’s crucial, of course, and they say you learn more from your failures than your successes, so breaking down the last couple of performances in particular may change some of his thinking on the way he’s set the side up recently.

I’d like to think the break will reinvigorate us and have us back at the level we were at just a month or so ago, but my confidence in both the head coach and the team has taken a knock recently, and I’m unsure how I feel about it all if I’m really honest.

Coventry City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Anthony Gair says…

Do we honestly believe that the players are tired, or simply running low on confidence due to a couple of losses?

I think the break will serve them well, and a week in training where Tony Mowbray can get hold of them and tell them where to improve will do wonders for the young lads.

In the end, we’ll be absolutely fine, but I worry about the team selection before kick off every week, because there’s usually been more tinkering or something that we expected to happen hasn’t, which has been our undoing.

Malc Dugdale says…

This week is quite a pivotal one and the extra few days’ rest couldn’t have come at a better time, in my view.

We won’t go down and we probably won’t go up either (although we’re still in the hunt for the playoffs), but instilling solid Championship experience and confidence in our young squad needs to carry on as optimally as possible.

We seemed to be flying when we beat QPR 0-3, but compressed fixtures during the following week against some challenging opponents has really dented our momentum.

The draw at home to Bristol was a real kidney punch, and we would’ve hoped to get at least a couple of points away to Rotherham and Coventry. It wasn’t to be, however, and those performances in the main weren’t great in terms of our usual flowing football.

With rest to help with the evidence of physical lethargy we’re seeing, and time to learn from what hasn’t quite clicked around the rotation we’ve had to implement, I’m very hopeful that we can pile more pressure on our old gaffer at home with a win against the Potters.

It only takes one or two good results to get back on the front foot, so I really hope we regroup, put Stoke to the sword and secure a season double over them.

Stoke City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - bet365 Stadium Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images


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