Gary Rowell: Peterborough defeat piles pressure on Sunderland - and they must deal with it
Sunderland return to action at Accrington on Saturday after a two-week break due to international call-ups that I don’t think anybody wanted.
The Sunderland players and loyal away fans must know the Wham Stadium like the back of their hand having visited twice last season thanks to an abandoned game that was rearranged and even at this campaign’s early stage it is Sunderland’s second visit , having already knocked John Coleman’s men out of the League Cup.
After a three goal defeat at Peterborough United that really exposed Sunderland’s frailties, the last thing they needed was a fortnight off and they have suffered the consequences by slipping down the table to eighth and already we are playing catch-up.
That makes Saturday’s game even more important, Sunderland can’t afford to lose anymore ground or momentum will disappear and we will have a fight on our hands just to get into a play-off position.
They say after a heavy defeat it is how you react to that reversal that determines the character of a team.
So, as they will have had two long weeks to stew on it, by the time the Accrington game starts I am hoping the players will be fired up and come out all guns blazing to put right everything that went wrong in the last game.
The omens are in Sunderland’s favour.
They beat Accrington in the league last season and won the cup tie around a month ago so they know how to go to the Wham Stadium and get the job done.
I am sure Jack Ross will be thinking long and hard about his team selection after that Peterborough performance.
Charlie Wyke won’t be available through suspension but the manager may well be considering other changes after suffering his heaviest defeat in his time as Sunderland boss.
I thought from day one that this season is going to be as much a mental battle as anything else, last year’s near miss has only fuelled the desire even more for promotion this season and because of that every defeat - especially heavy ones - will raise questions.
Everything was going to plan up until the Peterborough game with five consecutive wins but one defeat has changed everything and the pressure is back on.
That might seem unfair but when you are a huge club in this division, pressure comes with the territory and like it or not, the players have to deal with it.