When we came from 3-0 down to grab a draw at Bristol City last month, may fans could be forgiven for thinking they’d finally seen their side muster together some fight.
It was a phenomenal result considering how bad the first half was and it set up the visit of Brentford perfectly. A home win would have in turn put us in good stead for the relegation battle at Bolton, yet as it was Sunderland we failed once again to build any decent momentum and lost these two vital matches.
The defeat at Bolton in particular felt like a real blow. The mood turned to a feeling of dread, losing to your relegation rivals is criminal and being turned over at the Macron made relegation feel much more real than defeats to other sides. Upcoming matches against Burton, QPR and Reading are matches are going to be huge. If we repeat the Bolton performance in these matches then we will practically be a League One side. Happy days.
It was almost dejavu when we chalked up a second 3-3 draw in just two weeks, showing that we are more than capable of scoring goals but we are a continued total shambles at the back. Whether it’s four or five at the back, or one of three poor keepers, we are leaking goals like there is no tomorrow. A combination of these two factors made it so victory against Middlesbrough was always going to be out of reach. Even after taking the lead, like we did against Middlesbrough, I never have faith in us holding on. We scored relatively early and it was unsurprising when it was level by the break.
Yet the last ditch leveller from Callum McManaman would have tricked many Sunderland fans into this same feeling felt after the Bristol City match. It’s easy for us to think that the players will be revitalised by a late goal to salvage a point, but too many times we have failed to build together a decent run this season. We’ve been much better at stringing defeats together rather than wins, this being a recipe for disaster.
The weather has already claimed the Hull, Barnsley and Burton matches this weekend, which could prove to be a short term psychological benefit. A win could push us that bit closer to the right side of the dotted line and with high flying Villa visiting Wearside on Tuesday we could do with grinding out what would be a huge three points. However, Millwall are in fairly good form and they will see us as a side ripe for the taking. They don’t tend lose much at home and we don’t tend to win, well, wherever we play.
Victory at Millwall will be the timely boost Sunderland are desperate for, but the longer we go without putting together positive results rather than one every few weeks, the more we’ll be cut adrift in the doldrums of the second division. But hey, at least it’s stopped snowing.