Sunderland fan blog: Cats lack confidence, creativity, ideas and belief with pressure building on Lee Johnson

To say that Sunderland’s promotion aspirations have fallen off-course in the space of the last five weeks is very much an understatement.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 12:08 pm

Just over a month ago, the Black Cats were second, one point off the top with two games in hand.

The victory over Crewe was a huge promotion statement, they outlined their intent and attacking ruthlessness against a side that were, inevitably, poor.

But five weeks down the line and Christmas slowly approaching, the heat is on Lee Johnson and his team.

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Alex Pritchard of Sunderland scores the opening goal during the Sky Bet League One match between Shrewsbury Town and Sunderland. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images)

They simply lack confidence, creativity, ideas and belief and pressure is piling by the week on the management, as even more groups of support are beginning to turn their backs.

It all began just over a month ago, as Sunderland were simply not good enough against Charlton, and with the help of an abysmal refereeing display, lost their unbeaten home record.

They were even worse only a week later, as they were battered by the Millers, in a performance that still hurts even now.

Against Sheffield Wednesday they were arguably even worse – they lacked a creative element in the forward areas and were naïve and dreadful in defence, and were ultimately picked-off in what was Wednesday’s best performance to date.

But, then, Sunderland had the honour of a two-week international break to breathe, work and prepare for what was to come.

Fans anticipated a response; they needed one after the three matches previous and with the main goal against Ipswich being the three points, that’s what they did. The less said about the performance on the day, though the better.

A trip to Shrewsbury was always going to be a test of Sunderland’s promotion chances but whatever pressure they abolished at the weekend, was heaped back on (and a bit more) after an unimaginative and weak display.

It was a Shrewsbury side that were very thin on numbers and experience in their ranks, they had to call upon some of their youngsters to fill the bench but yet still, Sunderland lacked ideas, and minus an opening 10-minute spell in the second half, Shrewsbury dominated a decisive half of football.

And now it leaves Sunderland on a knife-edge, with a dilemma that the fan base is all too familiar with; the owners not so much.

Lee Johnson’s side are still in the mix for the promotion places. Yes, they’re five points off the leaders, with two games in hand, but it’s the performances that are causing the most worry.

Fans are getting all-too-used to Sunderland being second-best, lacking a desire for the three points and seeming uninspired over the last couple of weeks. It’s not automatic promotion material, and with the standard of this season’s League One, it’s arguably not even play-off material.

The Black Cats aren’t quite in dismissal territory yet but Sunderland need a response against Cambridge on Saturday and a performance that matches.

They simply need three points; there’s little wriggle room anymore.

It’s been a five-month period of rebuilding and restructuring the layout of the club but now Sunderland have hit a stumbling block and need to find a route around it. And fast.

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