Sunderland must avoid falling into this trap if they are to beat Rochdale and AFC Wimbledon and maintain momentum

With two games this week, at Rochdale tonight and Wimbledon at home on Saturday, Sunderland have a great chance to build on their victory over Portsmouth to really get the promotion bandwagon rolling.

Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 12:45 pm
The Sunderland players face another busy week with a trip to Rochdale on Tuesday and then a home game against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

Just the fact that we are playing in the same league as Rochdale and Wimbledon for the second successive season underlines how well and truly entrenched Sunderland are in lower league football.

That in no way is disrespecting those two clubs, they do amazingly well on limited resources, while Sunderland - with all their advantages - constantly underachieve.

You could add the average attendance of both Rochdale and Wimbledon together and it would struggle to fill the Roker End, which just shows the gulf between Sunderland - and not just Rochdale and Wimbledon - but most other clubs at this level.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However, after the Portsmouth win, there is a much more positive vibe now and the players must be up for the challenge of what are sure to be tough, physical encounters, this week.

There is a good omen from the corresponding fixtures last year, as Sunderland got a memorable late winner at Rochdale, gloriously celebrated by George Honeyman, while an Aiden McGeady goal was enough to claim all three points against Wimbledon back in February and I will settle for a repeat this week.

To do that, Sunderland have to show the grit and determination they showed against Portsmouth, and not fall into the trap of thinking because they have done the hard bit these will be easier games - they won’t.

I can’t see Jack Ross changing the system from Saturday as the players looked more comfortable and suited to a flat-back four but changes to the starting line-up look likely as Marc McNulty, for one, may not be available.

In Sunderland’s rich and proud history, games against Rochdale or Wimbledon are not too prominent but these two fixtures coming up are huge if Sunderland are to succeed this season.