Following a bright start to the season where Sunderland looked the real deal, Black Cats fans are now getting a familiar feeling following a dip in form. Two heavy away defeats recently at Rotherham United and Portsmouth, plus a first home defeat to struggling Charlton Athletic, have left many fans wondering if this is just a blip or if should they be worried that another struggle to get out of League One is happening.
Sunderland Fans Have No Need to Hit the Panic Button Just Yet
Not Panic Stations Yet
It has been a few weeks of highs and lows for fans on Wearside. Winning 5-0 at home and progressing to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals where they will face Arsenal, to suffering 4-0 and 5-1 away defeats and losing their first home game of the season to managerless Charlton. However, any fans doubting their team following Saturday’s disastrous defeat at Rotherham should resist the temptation to hit the panic button.
Sunderland have overhauled their squad for this season. Many of the players brought into the club or promoted to the first team are young, hungry and talented players. However, they are still learning. The team have played some excellent football this season and are still just three points off an automatic promotion place with a game in hand despite three recent disappointing defeats.
Their recent cup run, despite being exciting, and the rigours of League One football has taken its toll on the squad. It will continue to be a season of highs and lows; however, should Sunderland play the way they have shown they can and learn from their mistakes, there should be more highs than lows.
Lee Johnson ‘Still Learning’
Head coach Lee Johnson admitted in his post-match interview that he was “still learning”. He said: “We’ve lost the opportunity for three points but we have gained the opportunity to really grow and learn. I’ve learnt because I’m still learning about my players as there’s a lot of new players. About balance and combinations particularly in away games.
“I got it wrong twice. I got it wrong with the original team selection and I got it wrong with the changes.”
He continued: “In the big picture of the season, we have to learn the lessons. But we know we’ve already had a couple of those and the pattern has continued. So whether it’s a change of personnel, a change of tactics, additions in January, there’s clearly something that we’ve got snuff out to be more solid in the times when we’re under the cosh.
“As individuals, we’ve to get back to basics, and we’ve got to be better. Our big losses seem like a capitulation. Today was a really bad one and it’s something that we have to limit.
“I’m disappointed, I apologise to the fans. It has to be better.”