Too Many Draws

Despite taking the lead through Josh Maja’s 16th goal of the season, Sunderland could only draw against Scunthorpe, in what became our 11th draw of the season. Jack Ross had this to say afterwards: “We didn't deserve to win the game in terms of performance. But having got ourselves ahead and looked relatively comfortable for periods of the second half we should win it. We didn’t play well, particularly first half, and then having got ourselves in a winning position we don’t see the game out again. Collectively we need to get better at winning games from winning positions and keeping more clean sheets. We haven’t kept enough clean sheets this season. That criticism is not just aimed at defenders, goalkeeper, the team, it is aimed at all of us, me and my staff included. We are not doing it enough and we need to get better at it. It could be the thing that separates us from getting what we want this season and not. You have seen that how the table is panning out. We are still in an alright position but missed opportunities because we have had an inability to keep clean sheets. Frustration is a good word for it. It is striving to put it right. Buck always stays with me. The players accept their own responsibility, we are not doing well enough. They don’t need to come out and say it, I will say that. We need to get better. And make sure we do it better over the next 20 or so games. If not, we are a toss of a coin away from getting what we want. If we do then we will get to where we want. We are not far off it. It is only two defeats. That tells one story. But 11 draws tells another. We need to get better."

Elsewhere and Jack Ross has been chatting about Marcelo Bielsa’s spying tactics and he reckons that Leeds United are doing nothing unusual in the way they gather information on the opposition. “I saw Frank Lampard’s intro to his press conference where he said, ‘We all do that’, and yeah, that’s right,” said Ross. “The level of technology and information that’s available to managers nowadays is high. The size of your support staff is probably what dictates how wide that data can be. You then have to decide what’s relevant. I can’t say how other people decide that, but I would imagine there’s a lot of managers up and down the country that are very thorough in what they do. There’s a million and one things that people probably wouldn’t realise that we do. For example, I know what percentage of winning performances each and every player in my squad has been in this season. Now, that’s just one example. I know that for player X, 65 per cent of the matches he’s started, we’ve won. For player Y, it might be 52. That doesn’t tell you the calibre of the opposition or anything like that, but it’s just another way of bringing in information that you might use or might not. Sometimes, it might back up what you see. But the stuff that was shown (at Leeds), wouldn’t have surprised that many people who are coaching or managing in the modern game. That’s one of the key aspects of management. With the information that’s available, if you go on coaching courses, then a lot of people will do the same things because it’s not difficult to find out what people do. You can read a lot about them, you can watch stuff on You Tube, you can Google it. It’s then the fine details I suppose, and the way in which you deliver it. You have to identify the key information, and then it’s about how you get it across. That’s what will separate the average from the good and the good from the great. It’s something I try to focus on – how I’m able to condense information down, and how I’m able to get it across to my players. It’s not just footballers. With anyone, you probably have a ten or 15-minute window to get information across. Beyond that, you’re going to lose people. It’s about getting the information across, and then hammering it in all the time, whether it’s from my voice, written information or something they’re watching on a screen.”

In other news, Ethan Robson finally looks set to return from injury in time to feature in the Checkatrade Trophy game against Man City next Tuesday. "He's trained the full week, this week, which is good," Jack Ross said. "I'm pleased. I've said often enough how much I like him. He's had a frustrating season. We've got an U23 game on Monday and then obviously the Checkatrade Trophy game on Tuesday. We just need to make a decision on which one he is involved in. If he is involved with us, then it will probably only be from the bench because he has been out for a long time. Even now, just having him back, it reminds you how good of a player he is. He's got quality, it's just been disappointing he's not been available. But he's trained all week an not had any reaction. We've had times when we've been short in central midfield and then there's been the other Checkatrade games as well. Then with this game coming up, we've got the situation where Bali Mumba is suspended for being a midfield enforcer and picking up two yellow cards. This tournament continues to throw up interesting scenarios."

Finally, our allocation for the trip to Wycombe Wanderers, which was set at 1,800 has been increased by 900. Wycombe general manager Michael Davies said: “Sunderland have sold out every away allocation so far in League 1 and we very much look forward to welcoming their supporters to Adams Park for the very first time. It is our intention to attract the largest possible attendance for what I’m sure will be a fantastic occasion and therefore we have made the decision to accommodate away supporters in the Beechdean Stand in order to maximise ticket sales. We appreciate that this may inconvenience approximately 300 Wycombe fans who hold season tickets in this stand and hope they understand our reasoning for wanting to benefit from a bumper crowd on this occasion, with the added revenue that comes with it. We apologise that their preferred seats won’t be available for this match – the impact on those fans affected was a major consideration during our decision, which was not taken lightly, and we thank them in for advance for their co-operation. Sunderland gave Wycombe a brilliantly warm welcome at the Stadium of Light in November and there was a great deal of mutual respect and appreciation after that match, so we are keen to extend an equally open invitation to their fans to come down to Adams Park, see what we’re all about and enjoy the game with us.”