Wise Men Say: Why Sunderland's trip to Accrington Stanley is the biggest game of Jack Ross' career

Another game, another draw, and another performance in which Sunderland have been far from the level required to get out of League One.

By Matthew Keeling
Monday, 12 August, 2019, 12:14
The latest Sunderland opinion from the Wise Men Say podcast

Two games in and we already have a must win in next weekend’s game against Portsmouth. Before that, there is the Carabao Cup game at Accrington (which should be a laugh judging by recent weather conditions), in a week which in my opinion is one of the biggest in Jack Ross’ managerial career.

The first half performance on Saturday was atrocious, absolutely abysmal and the game should have been gone at half time. Obviously it wasn’t and we must give some credit to the players for managing to get something from the game, in particular to Lynden Gooch was is influencing games as he did at the beginning of last season.

There are, however, huge issues. Defensively, Sunderland are all over the place and the left side is just not strong enough.

I mentioned last week that Denver Hume has found himself as the only left back, which is not his fault, but we simply cannot have him as the only option for the rest of the season.

His lack of experience is evident, though the experienced Connor McLaughlin looks equally as suspect.

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Centrally there are issues too; Flanagan continues to struggle, as does Willis who was forced off. This might open the door for Alim Ozturk to return, someone who ended the season as the best performing defender, and will consider himself unfortunate to have been left out of the side.

You would think Ozturk would be one of the players to come in for the Accrington game on Tuesday, and it’s his chance to make sure he stays in the team.

The same goes for Max Power; if he can play and influence the midfield then he will be in with a shout for a central role on Saturday. Chris Maguire too, was excellent when he came on at Ipswich, and will be vying for a starting berth.

Sunderland have to do more, there has to be more drive from the midfield and we have to find a system that suits the players we have.

Will Jack Ross change it from the start, after reverting to a back four in the second half yesterday? Will he be prepared to give up on something he evidently had planned to use going forward? I think he is going to have to, because if draws continue, he might not get many more chances to do so.