Two wins and a draw from the past three games has eased the pressure on Lee Johnson and Sunderland. Prior to this, the Back Cats had seen their early season form capitulate with several poor results and performances. Discontent was growing amongst some supporters with them desperate to get out of League One. Johnson was beginning to feel the pressure and with injuries mounting, results needed to be picked up at all costs.
Seven points from three games has made the table look a lot better for Johnson, Sunderland, and their long-suffering fans. With just three points separating them from the top spot in League One, the Black Cats have a chance with three home games in a row coming up to put their blip behind them.
Next Three League Games Crucial for Lee Johnson and Sunderland
Oxford United, Morecambe, and Plymouth Argyle will visit the Stadium of Light in the space of seven days following Wednesday’s game in the Papa Johns Trophy. A week such as this could prove tough for the players but should they come out of it unbeaten and with two or three wins, the momentum it could build could see them through an always tough festive period.
Despite the season being far from over, the next three games could be crucial for Lee Johnson and Sunderland. Should the manager fail to oversee an acceptable points return, the pressure could mount once again on the former Bristol City boss. His side could drop away from not only the automatic positions but also the playoff places, should results elsewhere go against them.
Oxford and Plymouth have shown this season that they are serious contenders for automatic or playoff places. Beaten play-off finalists in the 2019/20 season, the U’s reached the playoffs again last season before falling at the semi-final stage. Once again they look to be on course to battle it out near the top of League One. Four wins and two draws suggests a difficult afternoon for the Black Cats.
Argyle have topped the table this season prior to three defeats from three games. The Pilgrims will be looking to get their promotion hopes back on track before visiting Wearside as the last of the three to visit the Stadium of Light.
Morecambe travel to the North East for a midweek game with many Sunderland fans seeing this as a game where Sunderland should win. The visitors are struggling at the wrong end of the table and anything but three points would be seen as a huge disappointment.
Lee Johnson Confident of Extending Unbeaten Run
Johnson is confident that the run of poor results which saw his position under threat is over and that the recent three-match unbeaten run can continue. Speaking to safc.com, he said: “When you come to a club like Sunderland in this league, you know what to expect.
“We’re just really working relentlessly hard to improve the elements of our performance that we need to, so that we can hit a really good run. I’d like to look at it from a positive point of view that we’ve started a little run, and that we can maintain that unbeaten run and achieve more wins for the foreseeable future.”
Injuries are mounting at Sunderland with several first-team players out of action. The two latest additions to the injured list are Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady. Both are important players but both could be out for several months. Versatile midfielder O’Nien is expected to be out for three months after undergoing surgery on an injured shoulder. It was hoped that the O’Nien could play through the pain and have surgery at the end of the season; however, this was not deemed possible.
Veteran winger McGeady suffered knee ligament damage in the recent draw at Shrewsbury Town. The 35-year-old is expected to be out for two to three months. Elsewhere, captain, Cory Evans is sidelined for two to four weeks and left-back Dennis Cirkin will not be seen until the New Year following a hernia operation. With other full-backs also struggling for fitness, Lee Johnson has had to use the versatility of several players to help out in what are in some cases unfamiliar roles.
Results More Important Than Performances
With injuries to key areas of the team mounting, Sunderland must concentrate on the results more than the performances. Fans want to see a good performance; however, come the final whistle, it’s all about the points. Three home games in a row gives Johnson and his team the perfect chance to cement their position as serious promotion contenders and to put their awful run of form prior to the previous three games firmly behind them.