Newly-appointed Sunderland manager Michael Beale has called for his Black Cats side to show consistency and character when they meet 24th-placed Rotherham United at the AESSEAL New York Stadium tomorrow, as per The Northern Echo.
The match will be Beale’s third game in charge of the North East giants after he, somewhat controversially, replaced previous manager Tony Mowbray a week before Christmas.
The former Rangers manager did not get off to the best start on Wearside as his team lost 3-0 to Coventry City in his first game in charge. However, a Boxing Day victory against fellow promotion chasers Hull City, combined with the relatively good form of the team prior to Beale’s arrival, has meant that Sunderland currently occupy sixth place in the Championship table.
Ahead of the game against Rotherham Beale said:
“I’m absolutely delighted with the mentality and character the players showed (at Hull). That is a big, big positive for me moving forward that they did that.
“The big thing for me now is that we need consistency. In the first half of our season, we’ve won ten and lost ten, so it’s clear that we can beat anyone but on our off day, anyone can beat us. On the first game of our second-half of the season if you like, that’s a big positive, but we must back it up at Rotherham.
“We have to recover, and how we prepare for this next game is really important. Again, the inconsistency tells me we can’t get too high or too low. We had two really good results (against West Brom and Leeds), we had two defeats (against Bristol City and Coventry). Now, we’ve had another big result (against Hull), and we’ve got two league games then we can take a deep breath. It’s important we keep this going.”
Beale also spoke about the competition for places in a Sunderland squad laden with talent:
“As a coach, I hope the players take their chance, but I do have a queue of people behind me that want a chance under a new head coach.
“They feel they’ve got a better quality in a better area than they’ve shown Sunderland fans so far. That’s a good thing, that we’ve got people dying to get on, jumping to get on the pitch.”
Although they may be at the bottom of the Championship table, Leam Richardson’s Rotherham side will be no pushovers and Beale is right in demanding that his players treat the match with the same vigilance that they treated the Hull game.
Like Beale at Sunderland, Richardson has only recently taken up the reins at Rotherham and his side also achieved their first victory under new management on Boxing Day as they beat Middlesbrough 1-0.
The AESSEAL New York Stadium is no easy place to go as the Millers have taken points off both Leeds and Ipswich when they visited earlier in the season, and it took an 84th-minute Kasey McAteer goal for league-leaders Leicester to beat them. The game certainly represents an opportunity where the inconsistency that Beale has highlighted could creep in.
The 43-year-old will be hoping that he can get his team on an extended winning run, similar to what he achieved with Queens Park Rangers and Rangers, so that the Black Cats can consolidate their play-off position and take momentum into the second half of the season.