Dan Neil has been a shining light of Sunderland’s exciting start to the season under Lee Johnson and did not hold back when reflecting on the side’s 5-1 loss to Rotherham United on Saturday.
It was an intense clash of styles at the New York Stadium and one that the Millers firmly came out on top of. The Black Cats were not up to the test when it came to defending crosses with four of the five goals being finished by a Rotherham man getting first contact on a delivery into the centre of the 18-yard box.
It will not just be Sunderland who struggle up against the unique threat that Paul Warne’s men pose this season but with the Wearside club’s aspirations for the campaign it was a chastening experience.
Teenage sensation Dan Neil gave a brutally honest assessment of the performance when he spoke to the Sunderland Echo.
He said: “It’s brought us back down to earth. We still have a lot to work on and I feel like we need to be more adaptable in games. There are too many games where we are just getting pushed and bullied.
“That is something we all need to take a look at ourselves for and put it right for the next game, which thankfully comes around pretty early and it’s another massive game, one of our games in hand.”
Sunderland’s hosting of Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday evening feels very significant with the travelling support likely to lose a lot of patience with Lee Johnson in defeat.
Neil speaks with maturity beyond his years in the piece and the determination to bounce back is clear to see in his comments. The Black Cats are still just one point off of the automatic promotion spots ahead of their game in hand at Hillsborough.
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Wednesday have the potential to be equally as physical as the Millers, with the likes of Chey Dunkley and Callum Paterson attacking set pieces Tuesday evening will be great test of whether Sunderland can address their shortcomings in defence. Frederik Alves and Bailey Wright will be in contention for a spot in the starting XI and the latter has the leadership qualities to facilitate better organisation when defending balls into the box.