Gary Rowell: Sunderland players can't use Tranmere Rovers pitch as an excuse ahead of HUGE Portsmouth clash
Sunderland’s away game at Tranmere Rovers tomorrow is quickly followed by another away game at Portsmouth, two games against teams with so much to play for at either ends of the table.
Sunderland’s biggest win of this season came against Tranmere, that five goal thrashing in Phil Parkinson’s second game in charge before it all went horribly wrong, then all came good again before that set back against Doncaster - it is always a rollercoaster with Sunderland, isn’t it?
There has been so much happen since that Tranmere drubbing - it seems like a lifetime ago - but tomorrow’s game will surely be a lot more difficult on Tranmere’s home soil.
Talking of home soil, the surface at Prenton Park is not the greatest so the Sunderland players simply have to adapt, be professional and not use it as an excuse if the result doesn’t go to plan, it is the same for both sides.
Tranmere have had a demanding schedule in the FA Cup this past week, knocking out Watford, before losing heavily to Manchester United and if that has knocked their confidence or taken energy out of them, that should work to Sunderland’s advantage.
Hopefully Sunderland will then travel to Portsmouth on the back of a good result against Tranmere because this could be one of the toughest games of the season.
There is definitely a fierce rivalry between the two clubs, after everything that happened last season, it almost feels like the feel of a derby game. if that is at all possible for two clubs that could not be further apart geographically.
This season hasn’t gone exactly to plan for Pompey, they started slowly, losing at the Stadium of Light in August but have steadily improved and I expect them to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
Who knows, there might even be another Wembley encounter if both teams fail in their ultimate ambition of automatic promotion but there are a lot of twists and turns for both clubs before this long, gruelling campaign comes to a conclusion.
Two tough games for Sunderland coming up, one against a team fighting for their lives in League One on a difficult, energy-sapping pitch, the other against another big club that shouldn’t be in this division and the two teams’ recent history almost guarantees a lively encounter, so these next two days are going to be massive for Sunderland’s success or failure this season.