George Dobson slams Sunderland's first half showing in honest assessment of Ipswich draw
That Sunderland survived the first 45 minutes of this game conceding only one goal will be a source of bitter frustation for Ipswich Town.
They were utterly dominant, carving out opening after opening as the Black Cats failed to come to terms with their pressing and direct style.
Better finishing would have put the game to bed long before the break.
It was not all wastefulness on Ipswich’s part, though.
They were denied on numerous occasions by some crucial interceptions from George Dobson, whose tenacity stood out on just his second game for the Black Cats.
It was a performance that hints at a player with maturity well beyond his 21 years, and after the game he had a blunt message for what had gone on in that first half.
“The first half wasn't acceptable,” he said.
“We came in at half-time and a few things were said about how it just wasn't acceptable for the size of the club, what we are in this league. We weren't even doing the basics right.
“In the second half we came out and put a good second-half performance in but you've got to do that for 90 minutes. We've got a lot to work on, a lot to improve on, and we need to do it fast because we've got to start picking up wins.
“The long ball from the goalie was coming in and we weren't winning the first ball, we weren't winning the second ball, we were just not doing enough,” he added.
“In the second half they didn't have any sort of chances, really, a few corners but just by us putting the pressure onto them instead of letting it come onto us was the big difference.
“We got to stop conceding the first goal. It was from a basic throw-in and they've squeezed it in from nearly the byline.
“We've got to get in front of games then keep pushing, keep pressing. We've got to look back on that first half and see what went so wrong but also look at the second half and take the positives from that and take it into Tuesday and Saturday.”
Sunderland dumped their back three system for the second half and matched Ipswich Town up in a 4-4-2. Dobson, though, said players could not use that as an excuse for what happened in the first half and admitted that fans had every right to be alarmed by what they had seen before the improvement later on in the contest.
“That's an easy excuse,” he said.
“Formations don't decide how hard you work, it doesn't decide if you win the first ball to the second ball, that's just down to how much you want it, how hard you're trying. It's nothing to do with the formation or things like that.
“Whatever formations we do play, the basics that were there in the second half have to be there for 90 minutes.
“Especially with the way we played in the first half you can expect the fans' frustrations,” he added.
“It's totally acceptable for them to feel like that.
“In the second half we gave a much better account of ourselves and got the goal, [then we] could have nicked it. It's a tough place to come.
“Ipswich will be a team who will be up there. They've got some very good players and a very direct style where the goalie can basically kick it the whole length of the pitch so it was a tough game.
“But the fundamentals and the basics that we didn't have in the first half we've got to make sure are there for the 90 minutes.”
Dobson endured a tricky start to his Sunderland career, his loose pass pounced on last week as Oxford United took an early lead at the Stadium of Light.
His response, though, has spoken volumes and he says that is down to the long journey he has already been on as a professional footballer.
“Football's an unforgiving sport but how you deal with mistakes is what I feel makes you the player you are,” he said.
“You can make a mistake and go into your shell or go the other way and come out of it completely.
“I used to do the opposite when I was younger, so that's something I've learnt. To come out the other side, that's just the way I am now.”
Results so far have been frustrating but Dobson is revelling in the biggest opportunity of his career to date.
“Every time I get the opportunity to play I just want to give everything. For me it's an unbelievable opportunity to play for such a huge football club with its fanbase. It took us six or seven hours to get here on Friday so I don't know how long it took them on Saturday. The amount that were here (1,847) was incredible. Every time I do get to play I'll be giving everything to help the team and help myself improve.
“There's not many times as a 21-year-old that you get the chance to join a club as big as Sunderland so every time I do get the opportunity to train and play I've just got to make sure I do it to the best of my ability. I have to convince the gaffer that I should be in the team, and obviously the fans as well.
“Personally I'll just keep working hard to help the team pick up three points instead of one.”