Sunderland legend delivers verdict on start and the key to success for Jack Ross
After 12 games the league table is taking shape with Sunderland placed in fifth position but with a game in hand, nicely poised for an attack on the all important top two spots.
All things considered, I think it has been a satisfactory start points wise with, I believe, more to come.
Four wins and a draw from the first five games was a start I don’t think anybody expected but in typically Sunderland fashion, with two home games there for the taking against Oxford and Fleetwood, they then slipped up badly and didn’t win either.
When those two disappointing home draws were followed up by a worst performance of the season in the defeat at Burton Albion, the team suffered their first wobble of the campaign and doubts were creeping in.
So two wins and two draws from the next four games was a response that was badly needed to get us back on track – even though both those draws against Coventry City and Peterborough United could have been wins.
Most of the draws Sunderland have had this season could have been wins but for usually self-inflicted damage, more specifically in the shape of three red cards.
That amount of dismissals in just 12 games simply isn’t acceptable and who knows if the points dropped when getting red cards in the Peterborough and Oxford games especially, will prove costly.
Sunderland have played well in patches but I don’t think we have hit top gear yet.
Every time you think we have cracked it, a suspension or injury has crept up and Jack Ross has had to make changes.
Getting that settled team and system I think will be the manager’s main focus; circumstances have meant it has been virtually impossible to do but if the injury list recedes and cooler heads prevail – resulting in less or no more red cards – his job will be a lot easier.
If he can get Charlie Wyke and Duncan Watmore back for the second half of the season, what a boost that would be.
Wyke was the marquee signing of the summer but we have barely seen him, while Duncan I know has to be wrapped in cotton wool after his cruel luck with injuries but it would give everyone a massive lift just to see him back.
Of the new faces, Jack Baldwin, Tom Flanagan, Chris Maguire and Jon McLaughlin are looking good and it is great to actually have a goalkeeper that we can rely on again, while loan signing Jerome Sinclair has the potential to be the best of the lot when 100% fit.
So, up to now it has been a decent start but not a spectacular one but I do think Sunderland will get better as the season progresses and let’s hope Jack Ross and his new team can do us proud come May.