Sunderland legend delivers damning verdict on Gillingham defeat as pressure grows on Phil Parkinson
Sunderland went into the Gillingham game with what seemed like the weight of the world on their shoulders and they played like it, producing a performance that just made a bad situation worse.
Of course it wouldn’t be Sunderland without a hard luck story, Charlie Wyke having a goal mysteriously disallowed and that scrappy 1-0 win every struggling team needs to kick start their season snatched away.
Over the 90 minutes though, it has got to be said that Sunderland were woeful. I could have lived with that in return for three points, even if we all would have known it wouldn’t have been deserved. To be second best for much of the game, to a mid-table team in a mediocre league is incredibly difficult for Sunderland fans to accept, but that’s the reality because that sort of performance is becoming the norm now. The odd good one, like the thumping of Tranmere which seems like a lifetime ago, is very much the exception.
There was a shock starting line-up for Sunderland fans to get their heads round when the teams were announced at 2pm, with six changes and a switch to a formation with five at the back. It took everybody by surprise and I think if every Sunderland fan had ten different picks for a starting XI, not many would have come up with the team that actually did start.
Maybe whatever team Phil Parkinson picked would have lost, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility, but when you make such radical changes to personnel and play a system that was tried and didn’t work under Jack Ross at the start of the season, you’ve really got to get something from the game. If you don’t, you must know criticism will follow.
Saturday’s game, but for a controversial refereeing decision, could have been a shocker that we won 1-0, but it wasn’t, it was a shocker that we lost 1-0 and the saddest thing is, nobody is really surprised anymore.