Since their defeat at Wembley, Sunderland have played two league games and what they have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt is their character, spirit and resilience.
It can’t have been easy to pick themselves up after the cup final especially as the Accrington game came so quickly afterwards but with clever use of the squad, and a subtle change of tactics, Sunderland blew Accrington away and ground out a win at Rochdale proving they have more than just one string to their bow.
In both games at Accrington and Rochdale, Jack Ross played a 4-4-2 system with Charlie Wyke recalled to partner Will Grigg and he superbly repaid the manager’s faith with two stellar performances and showed just why big money was paid for him back in the summer.
Injuries and what seemed to me to be a drop in confidence has held him back but what an asset he could be for the remaining games now that he has found the net again and playing well.
The other key change that worked for Jack Ross was his new central midfield partnership, of McGeouch and Power, and the highest praise they could have was that Cattermole and Leadbitter - who have done absolutely nothing wrong - weren’t missed and will have a fight on their hands now to get back in the starting XI as will George Honeyman, despite that massively important winning goal at Rochdale.
Honeyman’s winner might not win goal of the month but his celebration might and why not, his goal could turn out to be one of the most important of the season so deserves a special celebration.
It was also good to see Sunderland winning at Rochdale without the man who has been the talisman over the last few months, Aiden McGeady, although the sooner he is back the better as he is the player who strikes fear into the opposition and whoever our opponents are I know they would rather face a Sunderland team with him missing than in it.
It was impressive how the players reacted so professionally after Wembley, I really feared a hangover but it never happened and the players deserve so much credit for that.