Stephen Elliott: Sunderland players need to take their share of responsibility too after humiliating, embarrassing, shocking Bolton loss

Previously in this column I have questioned whether this team has the mentality to get a result when it matters.

By Stephen Elliott
Monday, 31st January 2022, 11:24 am

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On Saturday, with nearly five and a half thousand away fans watching on, we witnessed one of the most embarrassing results in the club’s history.

Sunderland losing 6-0 to a team that is in the lower half of the third tier is so far from acceptable that I can’t believe I’m even writing about it.

You can talk about the manager not picking the correct team, tactics and whatever else managers are supposed to prepare and get right, Lee Johnson obviously has got it wrong, hence why he is no longer the manager, but the players need to have a good look at themselves in the mirror.

Former Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson.

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There was no fight in that performance and it honestly seemed as if they didn’t care. Bolton wanderers could have potentially scored more and it would not have been undeserved.

I know I keep saying it and it may seem like I’m on repeat but as long as there is an acceptance of results like this then the chances of promotion could be more of hope than belief.

Defensively Sunderland were all at sea.

Even Ron-Thorben Hoffman looked like he wasn’t sure where he was at times.

The first goal was an example of that.

In fact the first goal probably sums up how easy it was to score against Sunderland on Saturday. A long ball up field from the goalkeeper which evades every player in red and white in to the path of Dion Clarke who just lifts the ball over the onrushing, in no man’s land, Hoffman.

There is no doubt that when this team are on the front foot and in control of games, the likes of Dan Neil, Elliot Embleton and Alex Pritchard et al are some of the best in the division but when the going gets tough there just hasn’t been enough leadership and resilience in the middle of the park and this is a huge problem.

To be honest it has been a big dilemma for a few years now.

The players need to pick themselves up now and find a way to go on a winning run. They have proven they can do this so whoever comes in needs to find a way to get these winning performances consistently until the end of the season.

On potential new managers there are many out there that could potentially fit the bill.

Duncan Ferguson is one that is seemingly at the front of the queue.

He would be an interesting appointment but one that could resonate with the Sunderland fans.

Okay, he has links across the river but he is the type of character that could relate to the public and if the team could show even half as much as the fight on the pitch he showed when he played than it would be a good start.

He has served his time alongside some really experienced managers so maybe the time is right for him to go it on his own and Sunderland could be the perfect place.

Like you, I’m seeing a lot of names mentioned. I do hope that whoever does come in can make the players believe they can get promoted.

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