Stephen Elliott: Actions speak louder than words - and it's time for Sunderland to show they want promotion

Everyone knows the saying “things can change quickly in football”.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 4:45 pm

Unfortunately for Lee Johnson and his team, this past weeks results have changed where I think the team will finish this season.

Going into the Easter weekend I was convinced that the squad had nailed it as they were doing everything which had been asked of them in their bid to get automatic promotion over the line.

But here we are, two weeks and three defeats later, and looking at the lottery of the play offs to get out of this division once again.

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Stephen Elliott: Actions speak louder than words - and it's time for Sunderland to show they want promotion

I can’t pin point why the teams form has so drastically changed but it’s very obvious that the confidence and swagger has disappeared fairly swiftly.

Watching the games the tempo of the teams performances have been pedestrian and flat.

Players who had been playing with a real high energy have gone off the boil and the team have struggled to come up with that urgency or desire to get games won.

Defensively the team have looked a little bit shaky and there has been a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes been made back there too.

Lee Burge had seemingly got rid off the mantra of having a clanger in him but in the past couple of weeks he has made some severely costly errors. Does Anthony Patterson come into the equation going forward? That is something that Johnson will need to decide.

Is it a mental weakness with some of these players? Do they not have the strength of mind to get results when it really matters? I don’t know, but watching the games this past week it would seem some don’t.

Lee Johnson, a confident character, will be wondering what has happened to his players and will have to work really hard over the next few weeks to bring that feel-good factor and self belief back into everyone.

When he first came into the job most supporters would have gladly accepted a play off place but if we are honest after recent form it doesn’t seem like celebration time.

If we move away from results this week though and evaluate the season as a whole, a playoff spot is probably all the team deserves if we are totally honest.

There was a mountain to climb for Johnson when he first came in and he actually had given himself a realistic shot to reach the summit which is a credit to him.

However, I do feel he needs to have a real think about things over the next few weeks as if the team continue in this form then Sunderland won’t be feared going into the play offs.

We can point to the Papa John’s Trophy and say there has been a bit of success this season, but for me the league is all that matters.

If Sunderland find themselves in League One again next year then it will be a huge failure.

Only the players can change this and if they don’t then there will have to be personal changes at this football club come the end of season.

It’s up to the players now to show they are desperate to achieve promotion. I know most will say they are, but actions speak louder than words and those actions need to be taken and taken now.

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