On the back of beating Doncaster in the league, getting to a cup final and the small matter of the takeover, you’d hope that this week’s round table contributors will be happy. Let’s see…
How do you feel about the Lincoln result? Delighted to see us get to a cup final. Gutted that you can’t go. Or not bothered in the slightest because it’s a Mickey Mouse cup and the league is more important?
I went into the semi mainly hoping we’d win to keep the mentality for the league. I was convinced I didn’t care until the equaliser went in and I was jumping up and down in the living room, so I guess I did! As for the final, it’s good experience for the team should we need to play there again in May. Damn shame that fans can’t go but with everything going on in the world, it doesn’t seem right to get too upset about it. Maybe it’ll be good if we get a win, lose the Wembley hoodoo and can move on to future Wembley finals. The main focus this season has to be to never qualify for this cup again.
Ultimately quite happy. The performance, whilst far from amazing, was an improvement on recent weeks defensively, especially given the centre back pairing that we ended the game with. Our reaction to both Lincoln’s goal and our goal was excellent as well, when you consider how poor we have been in the aftermath to us scoring and conceding over past few games (apart from the Doncaster game last Saturday). Keeping in mind that Lincoln have the best defence in the league, the pressure that we put them under after their goal was fairly encouraging, in terms of the way that we played the ball around the box looking for openings, as opposed to the Parkyball tactic of lumping the ball aimlessly into the box from 45 yards. In terms of the competition itself, I think that winning a semi final penalty shootout and (hopefully) being able to win at Wembley could be a positive psychological experience for the players, given that we currently look play off bound. An EFL trophy final will be canny for the fans (even if we can’t get to Wembley), given how excited people (including me) are to just to see us on TV with actual replays with different camera angles! People have said that winning this would be a stain on the club’s history, due to it being a reminder of being in League 1 for three years, but winning a match at Wembley would be a highlight in a dark era for the club and I believe that there are many better examples of us being crap (EG drawing at home to a nearly extinct Bolton) which would be worse reminders of our time in this league.
The Lincoln result was magic, despite it being a rather detached experience via the screen in the corner. Imagine how magic it would have been if there had been fans there, coming from behind, penalty shouts, penalty shoot-out and the reaction of a packed house to that. I’m absolutely delighted that the team have got to a cup final, but absolutely gutted that that none of will be there to see it. I’m lucky in that I’ve seen us win at Wembley, but there’s a whole generation that haven’t, and the current situation means that my sons will miss a chance to see a win, a chance that might not come along again. Of course, it’s a Micky Mouse trophy and the league is more important, but we’d be mad not to want to win it.
A trip to Wembley is always special regardless of what competition it is. I’m gutted that there’ll be no fans there and there won’t be another Trafalgar takeover but the game is the perfect chance to break that retched Wembley curse.
After the shambles at Shrewsbury the wins against Doncaster and Lincoln have given us a massive boost? Can we kick on from here, or will we continue to be inconsistent?
Any team that ever goes on a run of victories start off by being unbeatable at the back and, in my opinion, the way to do that is to have a back four and a keeper that you pick week in week out. Johnson has been very unlucky with defensive injuries but the only way we can hope to get a run of wins is to have that stability. When we attack with pace we look dangerous, when we are sitting deeper to help out the defence, it seems to take an age to start attacks and it just keeps coming back at the defence again and again. Hopefully Burge will be feeling more confident after his last couple of performances and we can get to a settled four ASAP. I genuinely think if we can get the defence sorted, there’s enough going forwards to get a top two spot this season.
Given how inconsistent we have been since Johnson has come in it’s really hard to predict. You could be cynical and say that we always seem to play well against the better teams and that its results against the poorer clubs that need to improve, meaning that the past two games haven’t proven anything. On the other hand, as previously mentioned, our reaction to our first goal on Saturday and to the goal against Lincoln isn’t something that we’ve seen for a long time, which hopefully results in a bit more steel that is required when you play a side battling relegation. The next five games will really tell us how far away we are from the automatic spots, and whether they are a realistic possibility.
The last two wins have been a big lift for the fans and the team, particularly Wyke and McGeady, who’ve turned into the division’s partnership of choice. Teams have feared them, and now we fans can see why, particularly in Wyke’s case, and Johnson is making the most of that. Any win creates confidence, and confidence means more wins - there’s nowt like a winning mentality to create impetus, and with two games a week it doesn’t take long to rake in the points.
I said that I had enough after the Shrewsbury game but in true Sunderland fashion they pull out a fantastic result against Donny and draw you back in again. The games we have coming up are vital and I think the result against Lincoln is the perfect motivation to kick on. Draws are not an option from now, we need to win every game if we want to close the gap to the top two. Burton on Saturday is not an easy game considering their recent form but we need to come away with 3 points.
How do you feel about the KLD takeover? Are you excited, once bitten twice shy, or concerned that SD, JS and CM will still have shares?
Delighted it’s gone through. It can only be a good thing for the club.
Great news that’s it’s finally over the line. Given the changes he’s already made, hiring a director of football for example, it looks like the club is going to be run in a progressive, modern way, which can only be good. The one thing I would say is that the data driven recruitment and improvement in the academy will likely take a while to get right and that there is no quick fix in terms of the running of the club. This means that time will need to be afforded to Speakman in terms of the expectation levels in these areas. Having said that, a good run on the pitch that culminates with promotion, combined with a takeover announcement, would build up a huge amount of momentum that could really be utilised positively by the time fans come back into stadiums next season.
Any takeover at SAFC is a bit “once bitten twice shy” for many fans, because of what’s happened in the past, but this one looks very good, now it's done. Being at the last three games after putting himself through a period of quarantine looks like the actions of someone who means business in the correct meaning of the word. KLD has enough money not to make this a “business” deal in the sense of chasing a profit, which makes me feel a whole lot more comfortable. The previous regime hanging on to some shares is understandable, as they’re hoping to make a few quid, but as they’ll apparently have no say in the running of things it’s not going to be much fun for them. I’d rather they made a clean break and buggered off, but I can tolerate their presence. Just. I might feel different were we actually attending matches, mind.
I’m pretty excited now it’s finally confirmed. I’m not ecstatic about Donald and Co having shares still but having a 24-year-old billionaire at the club seems positive compared to SD having no money.