Alex Neil makes an honest Sunderland admission in verdict on Bradford City defeat

Alex Neil said Sunderland have a lot of work to do after falling to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Bradford City on Tuesday night.

Neil changed his entire starting XI from the side who beat Dundee United at the weekend and at times the unfamiliarity across the pitch showed.

Goals from Emmanuel Osadebe and Jamie Walker in the second half gave Mark Hughes’ side the win they deserved, with Neil admitting his side had been second best all over the pitch.

Hide Ad

He said it was a lesson well learned after a broadly promising pre-season campaign so far, but added that it underlined the progress that needs to be made before Coventry City visit the Stadium of Light on the opening day of the season.

Jamie Walker doubles Bradford City's lead at Valley Parade

“I thought in the first half ultimately our use of the ball let us down,” Neil said.

“Our shape was good and our press was good, we made them turn the ball over quite a few times. Unfortunately for us, we turned it over far too many times and so they looked dangerous in transition.

Hide Ad

“What I did today was try to put two forwards up top, because obviously we only have Ross [Stewart] at the club, so I tried to supplement it with another player up top. I actually thought we got into really good positions, it was just that final bit of quality that let us down.

“The second half I tried to give them a more familiar shape to work in, so they can try and show their best attributes. Ultimately, we didn't perform as well as we can. Some of the lads didn't fully understand the second shape, some of them should because we played it last season at times but equally, for the newer lads it was tough at that point.

Hide Ad

“Our press did become disjointed at that point. Sometimes it's not bad to make the game frantic when you're chasing, but they got better in that period.

“The lads are disappointed, they know they can perform better than that.

Hide Ad

“I'm disappointed, you never want to lose, but it's better happening now than against Coventry on the opening day,” he added.

“For us, as a club really, we need to have a realisation of where we currently are.

Hide Ad

“We've got a lot of work to do in terms of bringing bodies in and equally, we have a lot of work to do on the training ground to get some of the new lads up to speed so that we can perform at our best.”

Neil also changed the shape to a back three for the first half, and that was something he ultimately did not play a major part in the result.

Hide Ad

“With three at the back, I thought we were sound enough defensively,” he said.

“I thought they became a lot of more threatening in the second half. I tried to change the shape to make us more threatening but we didn't use the ball well enough and we didn't compete as well we can.

Hide Ad

“The simple fact is, they were probably man for man the better side.”