Jack Ross has recently admitted that keeper Jon McLaughlin has been in incredibly good form for his team but hints that Sunderland’s defensive frailties could be the end of their automatic promotion dream.
The Blackcats drop from the Premier League, to the Championship and then League One is one of the most tragic stories in football.
However, having hit rock bottom, it seems they’ve finally rediscovered their identity and are heading their way back into the second tier of English football. Providing they pull themselves out of a fairly poor patch of form, that is.
Talking to the Sunderland Echo, following their draw against Oxford United, he claimed, “I get slightly irritated with this fascination with my goalkeeper making saves”.
Adding, “I grew up watching Manchester United, who were the best team when I grew up.
“People don’t remember Peter Schmeichel because he had nothing to do. He made big saves.
“Jon made some big saves, he’s a good goalkeeper and that’s why I brought him to the club.
“Away from home, you need your goalkeeper to make saves, he made a couple of good saves.
“We have to be careful we don’t get caught up in this whirl around this club. “He made some good saves today, I don’t think we were brilliant, but we got ourselves in a good position to go and win the game and Jon helped us to do that.
“There’s a responsibility on me to keep that positivity but also to be realistic with the players”.
Ross isn’t wrong either.
Title challenges are built on strong defences which render the need for a constant stream of keeper interventions unnecessary. Indeed, Sunderland fans would surely rather be playing their football in the Championship than a Jon McLaughlin 18/19 highlight reel on Youtube.
Indeed, such reliance on one man isn’t a realistic way of getting promoted during a campaign with so many games. Yes, McLaughlin should be praised for his heroic performances between the sticks, though the rest of the Black Cats need to step up. If they don’t, it could be another season in the third tier next time around, only adding to the years of misery felt by those on Wearside.
Ross, though, has the right idea at least.