Lee Johnson delivers this verdict on Blackpool defeat and Sunderland's woeful winless run

Lee Johnson says his challenge is to ensure Sunderland peak for a potential play-off campaign after their winless run extended to seven games.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 9:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 9:51 am

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

A stunning strike from Sullay Kaikai earned the three points for Blackpool while goalkeeper Chris Maxwell made a couple of superb saves.

That late rally proved too little, too late and Johnson conceded that it had been a 'leggy' performance from his side.

The Head Coach insisted that his side can still salvage something from their labouring campaign.

Lee Johnson watches on at the Stadium of Light

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

"The first half was fairly even," he said.

"Both sides almost cancelled each other and I thought it looked like a leggy game, there wasn't enough spark from either side.

"Second half it opened up a bit as it always would but you haven't got the crowd to sharpen you up and I felt it was a day when we missed the crowd a lot, in a game like after that.

"I thought after they scored, which was a fantastic strike and largely against the run of play because Burgey hasn't had a lot to do, I thought we were poor for a spell.

"We felt a bit sorry for ourselves until the last ten or fifteen, where we had a bit of a go and created a few chances.

"It's my challenge now, I think my second big challenge really since I came to the club, to retain some positivity and find that bit of magic if you like, to get the boys going and pick a team at Plymouth that isn't going to feel sorry for itself.

"Blackpool are a good side and they showed that in spells tonight, but it was a leggy game and a leggy performance.

"At the moment, the challenge is peaking [for the play-offs].

"Tonight, we were close to winning, but that’s the way things are going for us at the minute. I’ve genuinely got total belief that we can peak at the right time and individuals can bring their A game. We can’t have people sulking and feeling sorry for themselves, including me.

“Let’s be honest, the opportunity is [still] there. When I was standing on the touchline in that first game, and we were 11th, I’d have probably taken the position we’re in now.

"We’ve been going so well, so no wins from seven isn’t nice to hear, let me tell you. But at the same time, within those seven games, there have been some good performances. It’s my job to start earning my money now, and bring a bit of special motivation to get the boys going.”

Johnson pointed to key injuries in his backline as crucial to side's downfall, when pressed on the seven-game winless run.

He said: "We've had a lot of games, and we've had key injuries.

"They're not excuses but if you ask me to put a finger on it [that's it].

"There's been some misfortune in there as well, some of those games we haven't deserved to lose.

"We need to secure that [play-off place] and then peak in around 20 days time, and that has to be the focus.

"There'll be a lot of negativity and rightly so.

"We can't feel like victims, everyone has got to take the opportunity to go and show the world what a good player they are."

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Sunderland AFC coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor