Gary Rowell: Promoted teams must always have a Plan B ahead of HUGE Ipswich Town clash at Stadium of Light
Sunderland take on fourth-placed Ipswich on Saturday in a clash that is probably League One’s biggest game of the day but both teams will go into it on the back of disappointing defeats.
How that affects either team’s morale, remains to be seen, but as Ipswich are only two points off second place, Sunderland would be wise to expect a game just as tough as the last one at Portsmouth.
Phil Parkinson’s men, though, should remember that the last time a team right up there at the top, Wycombe Wanderers visited Wearside, Sunderland - in my opinion - produced their best performance of the season to send Wycombe home not knowing what had just hit them.
Sunderland were brilliant that day, they were all over Wycombe, from the first minute, they were quick, hungry, and the game was wrapped up within half an hour.
The trouble is, for every home performance like the Wycombe one, there is a Burton or a Bolton, the list isn’t short, as Sunderland have struggled for any sort of consistency at home this season.
Sunderland have dropped points in seven league games at the Stadium of Light so far, that is far too many.
So are we going to see the team that demolished then top-of-the-table Wycombe or failed miserably against bottom-of-the-table Bolton?
The fact that you don’t know which Sunderland will turn up, is the reason we are not even in the play-off positions currently, the players have under-achieved for much of the season and if they don’t find consistently good form then automatic promotion could again be just out of reach.
Top draw performances, every three or four games, won’t do.
They have got to be on it, week in, week out, keeping off days to an absolute minimum and when that does happen, you go to Plan B and grind out a result.
Promoted teams know how to do that.
For the vast majority of Sunderland fans, Saturday will be a chance to see the new signings brought in over the last week or so.
Josh Scowen, Antoine Semenyo and Declan John will all be pushing to get into the starting XI and after the Portsmouth defeat, Phil Parkinson may well decide to freshen things up.
Bailey Wright is another new face who only the away fans have seen, so there is plenty for the home fans to look forward to on Saturday but really it is all about getting three points - no matter what team Phil Parkinson names.