After the 5-0 win against Tranmere Rovers in midweek, Phil Parkinson must’ve felt he had turned fortunes around at Sunderland but the result on Saturday was a reminder that there remains a lot of work to do.
Despite being in the ascendancy for the majority of the game, the Black Cats slipped to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of mid-table Shrewsbury Town on the weekend.
On-loan Nottingham Forest striker Jason Cummings opened the scoring for the hosts in the 22nd minute and despite having the better of the opportunities throughout the game, Sunderland were unable to hit back and suffered a loss that keeps them outside the top six and means they’re eight points back from the automatic promotion places.
Where will Sunderland finish?
Outside the top six
The focus for Parkinson will now switch to the Carabao Cup tie against free-scoring Oxford Town on Tuesday, with the new boss looking for his second win at the helm.
With three games under his belt at the Stadium of Light, we examined three issues already troubling the 51-year-old.
The Black Cats had 16 shots at New Meadow on Saturday but hit the target just twice, as Parkinson’s front men continued to struggle.
With Charlie Wyke facing an extended stint on the sideline, Will Grigg and Marc McNulty are Sunderland’s available strikers and their poor form continued against Shrewsbury.
McNulty and Grigg have just five goals between them this season and were unable to add to that tally on Saturday, which is a concern for the Sunderland boss.
Problems at the back.
Sunderland kept their first clean sheet of the season against Tranmere at the Stadium of Light in midweek but unable to keep a second against Shrewsbury.
The Black Cats dominated the game but couldn’t keep the opposition out, which is an on-running issue for the club.
Sunderland’s inability to keep sides out has seen them drop points in a number of games they should’ve been winning this season and Parkinson needs to help them turn a corner, especially if their forwards are struggling.
The distance from the top.
There are a number of things Parkinson needs to work on to improve his side but a key issue facing him is that he needs to turn around their fortunes now because his side are already quite a way back from the top two.
Sunderland are eight points behind league leaders Ipswich Town and second-place Wycombe Wanderers, so they can’t really afford to continue to lose ground if they want to secure automatic promotion.