Stephen Elliott: Does this Sunderland side have the mentality needed to challenge Rotherham, Wigan and Wycombe for automatic promotion?

It’s amazing how views at football clubs can change in seven days.

By Stephen Elliott
Monday, 17th January 2022, 5:00 pm

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Going into the Wycombe game last Saturday, Sunderland knew a win would put them top of the pile in the League One standings.

And let’s make no bones about it, this is where this club has to be striving for.

As well as that, there were individual awards for the manager and players.

Sunderland drew 1-1 with Accrington Stanley on Tuesday.

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There was a big feel good factor seeping into the club and things were looking nice and rosy in the garden.

Roll on the week and three games later and the team is looking over their shoulders at clubs who could potentially challenge our play-off positions never mind challenging for the top two places.

Now I know that it may seem extreme but after watching the last three performances it’s obvious that this team don’t have the mentality to grab the opportunity to go and be that leading team.

A team that can put it up to and ask questions to the likes of Wigan, Rotherham and Wycombe.

The question could be asked whether a bit of complacency had crept into the club.

Was it the correct decision to play with the Covid cases? I’m not sure but it is so frustrating that the team don’t seem to have the bottle to win games when it really matters.

I certainly would not be surprised if some of the others in the play-off chasing pack may sense this weakness of mindset and potentially force Sunderland out of the promotion mix altogether.

There are still a few weeks left in the transfer window and I think it’s evident that reinforcements are needed to give a helping hand.

Conceding seven goals in three games is a big worry especially looking at some of the individual errors that many of these goals have arisen from.

The owners have to open their purse strings and bring some quality in.

Lee Johnson needs to make sure that those signings, if they do come in, need to improve the team.

Whether there are new signings or not the mentality and belief has to change amongst this club.

Over the last few seasons we have seen opportunities for the club to cement themselves in the automatic positions and all too often these opportunities have passed.

Thus far this problem still hasn’t been eradicated. Lee Johnson has to rally the troops and find a way to fix it.

He has to mend it quickly too as the club can’t wait much longer. The supporters deserve so much more than third tier football.

They still travel home and away in huge numbers and this season they really have to have a promotion to celebrate. It would be hugely unacceptable if there is no Championship football at the Stadium of Light next season.

There is still a chance but there can be no more slip-ups.

We can’t forget that there has been some good football on show this season so lets hope, as Lee Johnson often alludes to, that lessons can be learned and this can be seen when it matters.

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