Wise Men Say: Are Sunderland champions in waiting or just papering over the cracks?
Saturday was one of those games. From the scoreline, it’s another fairly routine win.
You might even say professional, given Sunderland took a two-goal lead into the break after coming from behind and maintained that advantage until the final whistle.
But was it?
Was it the cliché ‘future champions’ victory where the performance wasn’t there but the team were able to grind out three points? Or was it the latest example of what seems to be a growing consensus among concerned supporters that Jack Ross is just papering over the cracks?
It’s fair to say there are arguments for both sides.
On another day, the ball wouldn’t have been poked fortuitously into Aiden McGeady’s path to put his side ahead. Nor would the Stanley defence have been so absent in the lead up to birthday boy Marc McNulty’s first league goal for the club – although that may be a little harsh on George Dobson and Chris Maguire, given their sublime contributions in the build-up.
Had it played out differently, though, the hosts wouldn’t have been denied an equaliser when Colby Bishop’s deflected effort looped over the stranded Jon McLaughlin before crashing off the crossbar.
And as they piled on the pressure towards the end in search of a way back into the game, had luck been on their side, a little more quality may have surfaced.
But as it was, it didn’t. And you can attribute that to good fortune, and considering Sunderland’s recent track record, it’s long overdue. Or you could be a glass-half-full guy. No, the performance wasn’t anything to write home about, but we got the job done.
When Accrington Stanley made mistakes, we were there to punish them. That’s what good teams do. We certainly felt the wrath of that during our years in the Premier League.
And what about the all-important winning mentality? “As long as we keep winning, that’s all that matters” was the overarching theme of those responding to concerns following Saturday’s showing.
In the simplest of terms, it’s correct. But there’s also foundation to the argument that Sunderland are still to keep a clean sheet this season.
For all the good work Jordan Willis and Alim Ozturk do, there’s clearly still something not quite right. It’s not difficult to notice. And if you or I can see it, Ross certainly can. Whether it’s as important to the Scot as getting maximum points is another question, however.
Overall, Saturday’s win was another 90 minutes which served up more questions than answers.
Accrington Stanley owner Andy Holt said that his side were punished for their mistakes. Aside from that, there was little difference between the two.
It’s a valid analysis. But what remains to be seen at this early stage of the season is whether it was just another off day, and Sunderland fought through it. Or whether, like was shown towards the back end of last year, we’re not consistent enough to get out of this division.
I suppose only time will tell.