Sunderland’s Winless Run and Poor Performances Must End at Blackpool

Sunderland's Winless Run

English football continues amidst the Coronavirus. As does Sunderland’s attempts of gaining promotion from League One. Their previous four games have brought the Black Cats just two points. This after a run of one defeat in 13 matches.

Sunderland’s winless run has taken them from the brink of breaking into the top two, to being outside of the playoff places. Should the Sunderland players harbour any ambition to play at a higher level, they must get their promotion push back on track at Blackpool.

Sunderland’s Winless Run Must End at Blackpool

Unacceptable Performance at Bristol Rovers

Two difficult games against fellow promotion chasers Fleetwood Town and Coventry City brought just a single point. Gillingham at home was also drawn after the away side scored an added on time equaliser. It was a game where the Black Cats led twice but could not secure the three vital points. Against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday, Sunderland were in need of a good performance and positive result. Fans got neither.

Sunderland struggled for large periods of the game, the pressure of getting a club the size of the Black Cats back to the Championship obvious. A two-nil defeat saw the team drop out of the playoff spot places. Fans forgive defeats but the manner of this hurt many.

Phil Parkinson believes his players got “caught up” in the occasion and allowed frustration to affect their game:

“I thought we started OK, had decent control and were passing it reasonably well but then we just caught up with the referee’s decisions, the crowd, and we stopped playing. We were too emotional.”

“We end up conceding and we lost our way and have to accept that it wasn’t good enough.”

Changes Must be Made for Blackpool Game

In recent games, several players have appeared out of form and low on confidence. 21-year-old left-back Denver Hume is a prime example. There is no doubting that the local lad has talent; however, being the only recognised left-back/left wingback until late January has meant he has played a lot of football this season. A season which has been his first as a first choice.

Hume is going through a difficult spell and his confidence and performances are suffering. Against Bristol Rovers, Hume struggled with the Rovers wide-man to such an extent where central midfield Max Power swapped positions with him. A rest for Hume and the introduction of January loan signing, Welsh international Declan John could do both team and player good.

Hume is not the only player who could be at risk. Defender Tom Flanagan, like Hume, has underperformed of late. Joel Lynch and Tommy Smith are waiting to replace the Northern Ireland international.

Phil Parkinson dropped both Lynden Gooch and George Dobson for the Rovers game. In came Antoine Semenyo and Josh Scowen. Gooch and Dobson could be back in the side against Blackpool.

Players Must Rise to the Challenge

Whoever Phil Parkinson selects against Blackpool, they must rise to the challenge of getting Sunderland promoted. Last season, the Black Cats were in prime position to be promoted automatically. With promotion in sight, results and performances dropped dramatically. A playoff final defeat ended their hopes of an immediate return to the Championship.

The players, several of whom played last season, need to find the form which fans saw through Christmas, January and early February if they are to have a chance. If not, even the playoffs could elude them.

Bailey Wright a Big Miss

One player who has been missing of late is January loan signing Bailey Wright. The defender signed from Bristol City and was immediately put into first-team action. His next five appearances produced four clean sheets. Although this was a team effort, Wright’s performances earned him praise. He is expected to be out until the end of the season and his absence has been felt. He has missed the last five games. In four of these, Sunderland have conceded.

Business End of the Season and Sunderland’s Winless Run Must End

It is the stage of the season which many call the business end of the season. Good performances are always welcome; however, results are all that matters. Sunderland’s winless run has seen them drop out of the playoff places. With games running out, the Black Cats must begin collecting points again, starting this weekend.

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