One point from three games following an unbeaten run that took the Black Cats into automatic promotion contention has seriously hurt Sunderland’s automatic promotion chances. Woeful performances at home to Charlton Athletic and away at relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic saw the playoffs beckon for Sunderland once again.
Fans will now be hoping for a miracle as the playoffs and Sunderland tend not to mix well, especially in finals.
Playoffs Beckon for Sunderland Following Two Poor Displays
Sunderland Lose Must Win Game in Hand
Following the disappointing defeat at home to old foes Charlton, Lee Johnson’s men travelled to relegation-threatened Wigan. It was the Black Cats game in hand and a must-win to keep the pressure on Hull City and Peterborough United who occupy the automatic promotion places.
Lee Johnson, who has had to deal with injuries to key defenders since arriving in December, welcomed back centre back Bailey Wright and left-back Denver Hume. For the first time in months, Johnson could field more than one or two players in defence that were naturals in their positions. With this in mind, it was hoped that the Sunderland defence would be able to withstand any Wigan pressure.
However, on an evening where three points were vital, Sunderland left with none as the same issues of basic defending condemned Johnson’s team to a defeat. Sunderland did take the lead through top scorer Charlie Wyke but that’s as good as it got as two set pieces gave Wigan all three points.
Points to Play for But Sunderland Need Help
With just six games remaining Sunderland are five points adrift of second-placed Peterborough and eight behind leaders Hull. Eighteen points are still to play for but the Wearsiders now need help from others to derail those ahead of them.
Even if a helping hand is given, Sunderland must win their own games, two of which are against fellow promotion hopefuls and League One’s in-form team Blackpool.
There will no doubt be twists and turns as there always is at this stage of the season but unfortunately for their long-suffering fans, the playoffs beckon for Sunderland once again. And as their fans know too well, the playoffs have been far from kind in the past.
Lee Johnson Feeling Let Down
Speaking following Tuesday’s defeat, Lee Johnson admitted that he felt “let down” by his players, Johnson said: “We’ve got to hold our hands up and say, ‘Look, we weren’t good enough, it’s as simple as that. They deserved to win’.
“It was frustrating and I felt a little bit let down with parts of the performance. I really believe in these lads and I’ve enjoyed working with them, I really believe we can be successful as a team and a club. So when that happens today, it’s disappointing.
“This division is tough, pretty much every team has something to play for. You’ve got to respect that every opponent is going to give it everything they’ve got.
“For whatever reason, we’ve not been good enough on the day. We’ve been good enough in the past and that’s what gives us hope [moving forward].”