Sunderland AFC news: Alex Neil spotted watching Joey Barton's Bristol Rovers lose to Barnsley

Sunderland's head coach was spotted taking in a League One fixture on Tuesday evening.

Alex Neil’s side have enjoyed a strong start back in the Championship and face Sheffield United away on Wednesday evening.

They then travel to Stoke City on Saturday, Alex Neil’s side looking to build on the dramatic 2-2 draw with QPR at the Stadium of Light last weekend.

Sunderland’s squad travelled down to South Yorkshire on Tuesday, with Black Cats boss Alex Neil taking in the game between his old club Barnsley and Joey Barton’s newly-promoted Bristol Rovers in League One.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Sunderland manager Alex Neil reacts on the touchline during the Sky Bet Championship between Sunderland and Coventry City at Stadium of Light on July 31, 2022 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Barton’s side were defeated 3-0 by The Tykes with former Newcastle United midfielder Barton admitting his side had played poorly during his post-match press conference.

"We’ve got no complaints, we were not good enough," he said. "We were caught cold. I don’t know whether it was the deluge or whatever, but the lads were 1-0 down after three minutes.

"A shocking goal to give away and we didn’t really settle at all, doing some bizarre things in terms of managing the game and playing the conditions.

"They end up with a strike from distance that deflects and Belly’s got no chance, so they had a bit of fortune in there, but everything that could go wrong tonight seemed to go wrong.

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"We were second best in every department and that is very rare for our boys. Usually, two or three of them will dig something out and force a performance but tonight we were really poor.

"The lads know in there, they don’t me to say it, we’ve been second best in every single department. It’s rare for the lads. They usually don’t have an off day like that right across the board and absolutely every single player will look at this game and think we could be better.

"We didn’t win anywhere near enough second contacts and if you don’t do the basics well at any level of football, you won’t get anything out of it. I thought we were slightly fortunate to get in at half time only two down because we were abject.

"Second half, I thought we were a little bit more solid, a little bit safer going to a back three, but we didn’t do anywhere enough to force it and make it an entertaining second half. We were poor."

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The performance gave Barton plenty to consider ahead of Saturday's trip to Fratton Park to take on Portsmouth.

"We’ve lost a battle today but there’s a war of 46 games in this league," he added.

"It is three points dropped, three points lost. We’ve made a good fist of the start of the season, but it could have been better for sure and we’ll have to dust ourselves down quickly and get ready for a scrap at Portsmouth on Saturday."

Bristol Rovers are now 10th in League One with six points from four games after picking up wins against Burton Albion and Oxford United since promotion since League Two last season.