Glass Half Full/Half Empty?

September 10, 2018

After two disappointing home draws, some might say, a little bit of the new season buzz has gone. On the other hand, we are still unbeaten and fourth top. However, whether your glass is half full, or half empty, we need a win at Burton on Saturday.

 

Meanwhile, Jon McLaughlin, who saved our skin with a penalty save on Saturday, amazingly our first spot kick save, at home, since Tony Norman’s against Chelsea’s Graham Roberts in March 1989 at Roker Park, has this to say: “We’ll take that,” said McLaughlin. “I feel a bit for Robbin Ruiter, only a couple of nights ago he saved a couple (against Stoke in a Checkatrade Trophy penalty shoot-out)! But obviously in a league game or in open play, that’s great. Like we said earlier, we’re not too concerned about personal goals or things like that. If it contributes to the bigger cause, helping us to stay in the game, although we certainly would have taken that away if it meant we got a winner. The important thing for us is trying to get those goals at the other end, but again there’s plenty for us to work on at our end to starting get those clean sheets. We haven’t managed to do that so far, we’ve only had the one, and for a club like this in this division, if we can nail that down then we know that at the other end of the pitch the lads will take care of business every single week. That’s our main drive at the moment. It’s been a positive start, but there’s plenty more to come from myself and all the players, and collectively. There wouldn’t be many clubs in this position in the league still knowing that there is so much more that we can put out there and so much better that we can get. There’s plenty for us still to work on and we’re certainly staying humble in this division. We know there’s so much work to do and that clubs have got quality players, are set up well, know how to play and of course come to our place willing to do everything to get that result. We’re under no illusions but we also know that if we can get the work right, then we should be unstoppable. But when you're in these divisions and there is a club that’s out of place, such a huge club that you’ve never been able to play against at this level, it raises their game. No disrespect to anyone at all, but it’s different surroundings to what they’re used to. It’s a completely different size crowd, so that raises them and they want to put in their best performance on the big stage and show off what they can do. It makes things even more difficult because, not only are you going to face a tough enough test every week, there’s the added that they’re putting in everything they can for their best performance of the season. It means there’s no easy games, and that’s why the starts have been so difficult. Everyone comes out here wanting to impress on you from the start and see if they can ruffle your feathers and put in a shock result.”

 

McLaughlin also touched on our ability to come back from behind, which we seem to have to do on a weekly basis! “It's great that we're a team that's shown we've got that grit and we don't just get rolled over if we go behind. We're not some fancy team that doesn't have that determination and can't dig in and grind out a result. Teams know we're never beaten. But there's never a good time to go behind and you never enjoy it. You're never satisfied with being a team that goes behind. The best thing you can do is get clean sheets and give yourself a platform all the time to only need a goal. With a team like we've got, we back ourselves every time to score so if we're ruthless defensively we can see the results will start to flow every single week no matter what the opposition throw at us over 90 minutes, we'll back ourselves every time to break them down and get a goal. It would be a massive thing if we could start to put those complete defensive performances together. We've never thought, 'Well that's it, we're beaten.' We back ourselves every time to be the team that dominates over the course of a full 90 minutes. Regardless of what happens, we keep plugging away, keep to the game plan knowing we're going to break them down. We're not panicking when we concede but we don’t ignore it. The sooner we cut it out, the better it will be for us.”

 

Jack Ross also touched on our bad habit of giving away early goals and how we need to deal with the physical side of League One. He said: "In that early period we have to deal with the messy side of the game better. Winning headers and tackles and set pieces in that period. Opening periods can be frenetic. In the second half we ground them down a bit and they started to look leggy. We were fresh and at it. That period we have to get better at grinding through. We will have a period when we are not on top. Every week we have to get used to it. It is a different challenge. No game has been flat. That brings its own challenges. Every game that passes we will learn to cope with how teams have a go when they come here.  It is done through learning and training. In some games it has been a physicality issue. There is also games where it is individual mistakes. As a manager you can’t always legislate for that. Something can be made better – that is individual concentration. It happens at all levels of football. There is no pre-game training you can do to guarantee that won’t happen. You just try to cut down the vulnerability and that comes with repetition. Every time we don’t win here we should be disappointed. I want that mentality. I didn't say it after the first home game to come away from it. It is the same with the players. They are disappointed when they came in, a bit quiet. Then you step back and you look at the circumstances of the game. Last week we had ten men. We remain undefeated. As a realist at the start of the season we’d have said that’s ok to be in this position. It is a solid start, one that can better, but one that has given us a platform to be better."

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At the back end of the 1980s, football fanzines began to sweep the country and in 1989 we were presented with a new vehicle on which to enjoy some of this ride – A Love Supreme. ALS was a place we could all go to celebrate and commiserate being a Sunderland fan. Win, lose or draw, the pages of the fanzine became solace for many of us as we stumbled our way through our day to day lives, punctuated by the ups and downs of more match days than any of us care to remember.

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