Lee Johnson delivers this clear verdict as Sunderland fall to their first league defeat of the campaign
Lee Johnson rued his side’s poor finishing as they fell to their first defeat of the campaign at Burton Albion, but insisted there were signs that they are building towards a good campaign.
The Sunderland head coach said he had no real complaints with his team’s general play, and insisted they deserved something out of the contest.
Though disappointed with the end result and the inability to turn a host of good openings into goals, he felt there were many encouraging signs in the contest.
“I thought we were really good,” Johnson said.
“I thought Burton were good, to their credit, with their solidarity and their use of set plays.
“I thought we were very slick, solid. We had fantastic control, created some brilliant chances and could have been a couple of goals to the good.
“We didn't get the finish but then we kept going, to be fair. I can't pick out any individual to say they didn't perform, or try to play forward, or give it a go. We have to just up our final ball, because today was just about quality in the final third.
“We've got it in abundance, but through a combination of their good defending and our failure to find that final ball, which is unlike us, we fell short.
“But I honestly think if you play that game 100 times we would win 80,85 of them. I really do.
“I think if we score first Burton have to come out and it's a bit more of a basketball match.
“They end up with a back six or seven effectively, and that becomes tougher to break down. You have to give them credit, they scored a great goal and had two great chances, and they've had a great start to the season.
“You have to respect that.
“But at the moment, subjectively, looking at my team's performance, I thought it was alright.”
Jonny Smith’s outstanding strike proved to be the difference between the two sides but the head coach says he has a platform to build on as his squad continues to come together.
“Every game is tough in this league but we are building,” he said.
“I thought we had more cohesion today than at MK Dons, to be honest.
“More possession, more shots both on and off target, more final third entries, I thought Nathan [Broadhead] came on and looked sharp, the new boys looked like they were gelling.
“We're still a couple of positions short, and we know that, but I don't think that had an impact on this game to be honest.
“We want that intensity and I think our crowd will go home scratching their heads as to how we haven’t scored.
“They were with us right to the end which was nice to see and something we really appreciate.
“You can't get into the final third as much as we did, and not consistently win games. If we don't, then there's something wrong and we're better off without the ball.
“But I honestly think we've got enough quality players to prise teams open [in the long run].”