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Sunderland v AS Roma - Pre-Season Friendly

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Roker Roundtable: Is Sunderland’s pre-season lineup good enough?

With six games lined up at home and abroad, will it allow the Lads to get fully up to speed ahead of the new season, or do the fixtures look slightly too easy on paper?

Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Mitch Marshall says...

The fixture list is just fine by me.

Over the years I suspect we’ve all been more or less excited by who we’ve been set to play over the summer but frankly, even games against the big names are rarely that interesting, Luke O’Nien’s recent riling up of Roma and Nyron Nosworthy’s rare goal aside.

I also struggle to see any real correlation between who we’ve played and how we’ve performed during the season itself.

It’s just about letting the players get a proper run out after intensive training sessions and to try a few things out tactically before deploying them in the games that really matter.

However, one note of caution I might strike is that a long trip to a different time zone isn’t something I’d necessarily plan into the ideal pre season.

While some seasoned fans will presumably lament the loss of the Portuguese trip we’ve often undertaken, I’m more concerned about the cumulative effect of getting up to speed physically whilst also jetting around the world.

It’s rare these days, but pre season should be about honing in on the league campaign’s opening fixture instead of trying to win over new markets, as we’re presumably trying to do.

This is all well and good, and it’ll be great for our US fans to see the Lads live, but from a footballing perspective, I’m not sure it’s ideal preparation for a punishing Championship campaign of long coach travel and midweek matches galore.

Nonetheless, I’m not too concerned.

The big teams do this every year without it really affecting their performances too much, and we’ll still get our nice little run outs to Gateshead, South Shields and Hartlepool, which I always enjoy.

For me, pre season is a chance to see some new signings take to the field in our new kits, and hopefully to drink a couple of local beers in the sunshine to boot. I’ll still get to do that, so I’m still happy enough.

See you at The Corner Flag on the first of August!

Sunderland v AS Roma - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says...

I’m slightly on the fence, if I’m honest.

2022/2023 was a long, hard season that was definitely impacted in terms of results due to the injury issues we faced. We suffered horrendous luck right across the park, including players on and off the bench.

I want us to have something of a test before the Championship restarts, but one thing we need to improve is getting and keeping our players fit.

That said, there’s sometimes more risk of injuries when playing sides further down the pyramid than in playing teams higher up the pyramid.

Considering the gap in technical ability between Patrick Roberts’ foot speed and the defensive players of Gateshead and San Antonio who’ll be trying to contain him, we could end up seeing some very battered shin pads on his legs.

I can’t see Tony Mowbray taking many risks with our star players, and it’s likely that our hopefully bigger squad will allow us to bed in new prospects, reducing the risk of our prized assets taking a knock before the new season starts.

I don’t read too much into pre season results, mainly because these games are more about getting minutes back into rested legs and seeing how new signings or emerging talents may fit in. They’re also vital for players returning from injury and helping them regain the strength they need for a new season.

Yes, we probably could’ve lined up more challenging opponents but we all know the core of this team is pretty much pure gold, so what would it prove by playing harder teams in these matches?

Let’s use these games to get some mileage back into the legs of not only Ross Stewart, but also Aji Alese, Danny Batth, Niall Huggins, Dan Ballard, Elliot Embleton and Corry Evans.

I trust the club to carry on the successful trend we started under Kyril Louis-Dreyfus a couple of years ago, and that includes having faith that they know what we need to get the squad ready for the 2023/2024 season.

I can’t see us losing very often in these friendlies or letting many goals in, but for now, that’s not the most important thing.

Let’s get this team ready for what really matters and that’s another playoff run, or maybe even better, in about forty eight weeks’ time

Tom Albrighton says...

In my opinion, Sunderland’s pre season schedule is very on brand and straight from the ‘Football Manager’ handbook.

Any stalwarts of the game know the importance of building fitness with minimal complications and in the real world, I think there’s maybe some method in the madness.

After a season plagued by injuries, it makes sense to take a lighter approach in terms of footballing minutes, allowing more scope for the coaches and physios to build players up in preparation for the season to come.

Having a lighter schedule also gives a good degree of flexibility within the ranks, in terms of of players not exerting themselves too much in order to prove a point in the face of strong opposition, even though we’d all be keen to see Luke O’Nien rattle Jose Mourinho for posterity!

In short, the lighter and less competitive schedule seems like a prudent approach in building match fitness whilst not requiring a level of overexertion players may face.

Add in a series of games where attacking play should thrive and the mixture of fitness and confidence should serve us well, with an aside of playing a raft of ‘lesser’ opposition weeding out those who aren’t fully applying themselves.

Of course, this could all backfire but with a short turnaround between the season’s end and the start of the new campaign, taking a less intense approach may be more beneficial this time around.

Sunderland v AS Roma - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images


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