Gary Rowell: Promotion is everything this season - and Jack Ross must deliver against MK Dons
Sunderland have another double header of cup and league action starting with the cup tie at Sheffield United tomorrow and ending with a huge home league fixture against MK Dons on Saturday.
The last time Sunderland had a week like that, it started well enough with an impressive cup win at Burnley but ended chaotically with a three goal defeat against Peterborough and a couple of red cards just piled on the misery, although one was later rescinded.
That can’t afford to happen this time round, especially as the league fixture is a home game and Sunderland can’t be dropping more home points if we are ever to win promotion.
I see the cup clash against the Blades as similar to the last one at Burnley as Sunderland go up against a team in mid-table in the Premier League but who will be desperate to stay at the top table having just been promoted in May.
For that reason, Chris Wilder will make changes just like Burnley did as will Jack Ross, who will use his squad and this could be the opportunity to blood Joel Lynch and Laurens De Bock as they must desperately need game time.
I think the League Cup is something the fans are seeing as whatever happens, happens, if we have some fun along the way then great but while a cup run would be exciting and a nice release from the grind of League One, promotion is simply a must which brings us to the game with MK Dons.
This is a team who blow hot and cold but in their last away game they beat Blackpool 3-0 so they must be taken seriously as Blackpool are no mugs.
The Dons won promotion last season so there still must be a feel-good factor about the place whereas Sunderland, after two depressing league draws, are desperate for a lift and three points on Saturday would give them that more than anything.
So Sunderland have two games this week, and I want them to win both but if we lose to a team two divisions higher in the cup it won’t be viewed as a surprise and people will get over it.
But lose at home to MK Dons or even draw again and the fans won’t take that at all well because for the long-term future of the club everyone knows promotion is everything.