“It’s Frustrating” – Sunderland Star Hoping To Reignite Play-Off Push

Sunderland midfielder Dan Neil has admitted that it’s been a “frustrating season” for the Black Cats as a second-consecutive play-off finish looks highly unlikely for the Wearside club this term.

It’s been a turbulent season for Sunderland. Having flirted with the top six at times throughout the campaign, the side are now on a seven-match winless streak and face a tough test away at the Cardiff City Stadium this Friday.

This dreadful run of form started with Michael Beale in the dugout but after a dismal defeat away at Birmingham City, who were under the guidance of Tony Mowbray at the time, the ex-Queens Park Rangers head coach was relieved of his duties.

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Dodds was handed the reins on an interim basis for the second time this season, having guided the side to wins against West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United at the Stadium of Light back in December after Mowbray’s sacking. However, his second stint in the dugout hasn’t gone to plan.

In five matches under Dodds, Sunderland have mustered merely one point from a possible 15 which came in a goalless draw at home to relegation-threatened QPR. This result left the side 13 points adrift of the final play-off place, leaving hopes of a Premier League promotion a significant improbability.

According to Opta’s latest projections, Sunderland now have less than a 0.1% chance of finishing in the play-offs at the end of the season. With eight games remaining, Dodds’ men will need to pick up maximum points to even stand a chance.

Nevertheless, speaking in a recent interview with the Sunderland Echo, Sunderland star Neil hasn’t given up yet and believes his side can still make a push for the top six if they hit the ground running after the international break [quotes via The Northern Echo]:

“It’s frustrating. I think I’ve been in the stands when there have been implosions in the past. I think everything has kind of been fine and dandy the last few years and everything has kind of been smooth sailing. I think this year was going to be a tough year regardless.

“It just hasn’t gone our way this year and we need to look at ourselves for that. We need to take some accountability. The mentality is still there within the group and we are going to keep fighting. The last eight games are massive and we will be trying to win them all,” Neil continued.

“I was saying it the other day, you don’t want to be going into the last few games of the season playing for nothing, because it just breeds a bit of probably a bit of laziness because we can’t go up and we can’t go down. That’s why after this international break we have to hit the ground running and we have to put a run together so at least we have got a glimpse of it going into each game. 

“I think there’s no worse feeling than having nothing to play for. I think we need to use this international break as a reset and come out all guns blazing to finish the season.”

Writer’s View

This season should be one of reflection for Sunderland owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus. All of his decisions seemed to stem from a desperate need to get his club back to the promised land but some strange decisions were made along the way.

From the sacking of Mowbray to the appointment of Beale to putting Dodds back in the helm for the remainder of the season despite a play-off finish still being relatively possible, the 27-year-old will need to review the decisions he made in the summer to ensure the same doesn’t happen next season.

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About Adam Scully 764 Articles
Deputy Head of Writing

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