Stephen Elliott: Why I'm excited by the arrival of Rangers winger Jordan Jones at Sunderland
After beating Ipswich on Tuesday, Sunderland had a real chance to continue their little run of wins with a home game against Gillingham on Saturday.
Yet again, in what has become a regular pattern, Sunderland failed to do enough to get a win at the Stadium of Light.
If we are honest, despite Gillingham’s equaliser being at the death, you’d have to acknowledge that a point was the least they deserved. They were the superior team and Sunderland struggled to deal with their physical style all afternoon.
As well as their physicality, Gillingham had the best player on the pitch in Jordan Graham. He was quick, sharp and carried the ball well, something Sunderland really lacked for the majority of the game.
Since Lee Johnson has arrived there have been a few positive signs but, on the pitch, frankly, we have not seen drastic changes. There are still lots of things to take into account before we can start judging the new manager fairly, of course.
Bringing Aiden McGeady back into the squad has added a little bit more craft and guile but I suspect will see even bigger improvements once Johnson has had a bit more time to stamp his vision on things.
McGeady wasn’t outstanding on Saturday, but he supplied the only bits of magic evident in a Sunderland shirt and if it wasn’t for those two moments then Sunderland would have lost the game.
Since the start of the 2018-19 season Sunderland have played 106 games in this division. This has brought 40 draws. In many of these games Sunderland have been in winning positions and, like Saturday, failed to get over the finishing line.
That stat is not even close to being good enough and it has to change quickly.
I feel like we’ve been saying this forever and it is so frustrating.
If Sunderland are to be successful in getting out of this division, some of these draws need to become wins. Both Jack Ross and Phil Parkinson failed to rectify this soft underbelly and in Johnson’s short tenure so far it doesn’t seem to have improved.
The whole team needs to be a bit more calm and show more know-how when seeing out games.
Grant Leadbitter, although he doesn’t wear the armband, leads by example. He has an assurance about him which shines out like a beacon compared to some of his teammates. Because of this I was surprised to see him removed from the game before Gillingham’s late goal.
Not winning games seems to be accepted too easily and this has to change.
The three new arrivals coming in are going to have to hit the ground running. I feel that the success of this season is depending on it somehow.
The player I am most looking forward to seeing is Jordan Jones.
I have spoken at length about the lack of pace and directness in the squad and in Jones there is a player who has both of those attributes in abundance.
I would expect him to come straight into the starting line-up as soon as possible, and if he can reproduce some of the form he showed at Kilmarnock before his move to Rangers, we could be in for a treat.
He could make a huge difference to an attack that, at the moment, seems very one dimensional.
There’s no doubt he won’t be giving up on his Rangers career and impressing here could be the key to show Steven Gerrard he still has a future at Ibrox.
If this is the case, lets hope it changes Sunderland’s fortunes in the process.