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Sunderland v Coventry City - Sky Bet Championship

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Sunderland are potentially facing a season-defining fortnight

“The gaps in the side are glaringly obvious to many supporters, and the next two weeks will be a test for the club’s hierarchy,” writes Paddy Hollis.

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Sunderland wilted in Suffolk at the weekend, during a match where we did so well to take the lead and then did our best to stuff it up. The same old issues reared their head again, and Michael Beale’s baffling substitutions were the icing on the cake.

A display that was okay in parts was enough to induce immense frustration in others as our weakened core was exposed again, and a well-drilled Ipswich side made the most of it.

The defeat wasn’t all on the boss, of course, with several players not exactly showing themselves in the best light, but the outcome was frustrating nevertheless.

Saturday showed once again that there are some glaringly obvious gaps in our squad, but time is ticking to get them filled between now and the end of the transfer window.

A striker with a bit of seniority is something we’ve been missing for some time, although I can make the argument that our current strikers still haven’t been given a fair crack of the whip. Nazariy Rusyn, for example, scored against Preston and put a shift in against Newcastle before being dropped, and we played Jobe up top at Portman Road.

Sunderland v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Considering how things have gone in recent weeks, our attention should also be elsewhere.

We’re crying out for a holding midfielder, someone to sit in a key position and provide extra support for a defence that’s looked frail on too many occasions. Dan Neil should be more effective going forward and Pierre Ekwah simply isn’t a defensive midfielder, no matter how many times he plays there.

The spine of our team is almost non-existent at times, and on too many occasions teams have sliced through us with relative ease.

Signing a defensively-minded central midfielder in the remaining weeks of the window is arguably more important than adding a fifth striker.

Being more resolute is something we needed to improve following Tony Mowbray’s departure, and it’s an improvement we’ve yet to see so far. We’re also playing football which is far less entertaining than the Lads often produced under Mogga.

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

The last two weeks of the window are going to show exactly what the club wants from the remainder of the season.

An experienced striker, a defensive midfielder and ideally a left back would add enough to the squad to perhaps think about moving forward again. If not, the remaining nineteen matches will feel like the club hierarchy wants to tread water, possibly make wholesale changes in the summer and start next season with a clean slate.

What happens between now and the end of January could have a major impact on how many fans view the club.

Patience has worn thin for many and if the shambles off the pitch in recent weeks is followed up with a poor run of results and performances, the mood will only get worse and each goal conceded and each match without a win will lead to immense pressure on those in the boardroom.


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