The last week has been busy for Sunderland, with a huge game against Barnsley in the league and a quick return to Walsall to play them again in the FA Cup.
Last Tuesday’s clash with fellow promotion hopefuls Barnsley seemed to have everything, three points, four goals, numerous chances and entertainment galore.
On the negative side conceding two goals from a 3-0 leading position caused a few flutters but overall the team passed a difficult test to get the bandwagon rolling again after two draws.
One of my old bosses, Alan Durban, would have been on our case all night and right through to the next game for losing concentration and conceding two after doing the hard work.
He loved winning by any score as long as it came with a clean sheet but Jack Ross sets his team up differently and as Sunderland are one of the league’s top scorers, I guess it is inevitable there will be a few risks taken at the other end.
That sort of attacking policy won’t work all the time, it will backfire on occasions but as Sunderland have only lost once this season, it has been successful far more times than it has failed.
All the attacking players were on their game against Barnsley, especially Aiden McGeady who tormented their defence. With his skill he could and should take this league apart.
McGeady had a slow start to the season due to injury and playing catch-up with his fitness but he is firing on all cylinders now and I am confident he is going to be causing nightmares for defenders who know they are going to be coming up against him soon.
Last Tuesday’s game against Barnsley was billed as the biggest so far of the season and a lot of fans – me included – saw it is a defining fixture.
Would Sunderland deliver against a serious rival and could they handle the pressure of expectation?
Happily, they didn’t disappoint.
The Walsall cup tie, though, was a more frustrating afternoon for Sunderland, who after leading, had to settle for a replay.
It keeps the unbeaten run going and that is always great for any dressing room and Sunderland will again be favourites to take their place in the third round.
It would have been handy to get the job done at the first attempt as another game in an already busy December just adds to the workload.
Sunderland, though, must have as deep a squad as any in this league with players to come back also and they all could be needed over the next month.