Stephen Elliott: Sunderland boss Lee Johnson deserves credit for this masterstroke against Ipswich Town - and now the team has to go on another run
After an abysmal run of form before the international break Lee Johnson would’ve been happy to have a few weeks on the training pitch with his squad to try and instil a bit of belief in them.
I felt going into Saturday’s game it was vital for Johnson that his team were able to get back to winning ways.
Whether a team plays well or not, winning games is always the most important outcome in matches.
This was especially important for Johnson against an Ipswich team, who themselves have struggled for consistency, on Saturday.
I was interested to see Luke O’Nien start the game at left back, albeit not too surprised he didn’t start in the middle of the pitch.
O’Nien had been a bit off his usual standards leading into the break and I would not have been totally shocked to see him have a break from the starting XI.
However, it proved to be a masterstroke by Lee Johnson as the makeshift full-back put in a performance there that earned him the man of the match award.
It was pleasing as I feel that position has been a bit of a troublesome one of late.
Lee Johnson also brought Bailey Wright back into the back four instead of Tom Flanagan. The back five – and I include Hoffman in that – were the standout performers for me and didn’t really give much up to a half decent front line.
They looked strong and organised and that was really pleasing to see as before the break I felt the back four looked like they were getting bullied at times in some of the defeats.
Johnson alluded to Dennis Cirkin looking like he is going to be missing until the New Year.
It’s not ideal but in O’Nien - although he is not a recognised full-back as proven last year - he can be a more than strong option in there.
He knows the role and it was great to see him pop up with opener, although I’m not too sure he knew too much about it.
It may not have been the greatest offensive performance by Sunderland but I feel the substitutes by Johnson came at the right time.
Both Alex Pritchard and Aiden McGeady showed their coolness and quality being involved in both goals at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.
McGeady especially, keeping his cool to stick the penalty away, which knocked the final bit of fight out of Ipswich.
It wasn’t a great performance but I think head coach Lee Johnson and his staff’s reaction at the full-time whistle showed exactly what the result meant to them.
I hope this win can instil some much needed confidence into the group going into some important away games over the next week.
Stopping that losing streak was the most important outcome and I firmly believe we will see the team go on another winning run that will hopefully put the club firmly back into the promotion places.