Sunderland lost 2-0 to promotion rivals Portsmouth on Saturday and fell out of the play-off places, but Max Power is determined to put things right.
The Black Cats had enjoyed a nine-game unbeaten run prior to their visit to Fratton Park, a sequence of results which puts them firmly back in the promotion picture, though they will likely need to replicate that if the automatic promotion spots are to be a realistic goal. Power has started in all but one league game under Phil Parkinson, which demonstrates the manager’s faith in him, but he was quick to admit that he and his teammates failed to reach the level required of them.
The home side outclassed the north-east outfit. As well as enjoying the majority share of possession they also managed 17 shots to Sunderland’s five, so it is little surprise that Portsmouth took all of the points.
Speaking after the match, as reported by the Sunderland Echo, Power said:
“Today we’ve got to hold our hands up, and maybe we gave away some needless fouls and they’ve got lads with great delivery and lads who attack the ball well, so maybe there was a bit of naivety on our part.
“We won’t get too down. It’s not ideal to lose to a rival but we’ve got to bounce back quickly. There’s no hiding from it, we know it’s a big month.
“We’ll take it [defeat] on the chin, analyse where we’ve gone wrong and put it behind us. We’ve set our standards really high of late, the second half wasn’t at that, so the unbeaten run has come to an end and we need to start another one.”
Power’s defiant comments suggest there is a belief in the Sunderland camp and a high expectation set by Parkinson, two traits which are essential if the team are to bounce back and get their promotion push back on track.
However, they will also need quality, an aspect that has sometimes been lacking from the Black Cats, particularly in attack. A run of two goals in four games shows there is a need for improvement in that area, and though they may possess the best defensive record in the league with 27 goals conceded, the visit of Ipswich next week will be a real test.
The fourth-place side will also be eager to bounce back after a 4-1 defeat to Peterborough last weekend, but if the north-east outfit overcome Paul Lambert’s side they will not only overtake them in the table, but possibly move two points behind second-placed Wycombe.
Without goals, however, that could be unlikely, and given the Tractor Boys have conceded just 29 goals in 29 league games Parkinson may call upon some fresh faces up-front, such as new signings Kyle Lafferty and Antoine Semenyo.
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