Lee Johnson has admitted that it will now be ‘extremely difficult’ for Sunderland to secure automatic promotion.
The Black Cats have enjoyed a wonderful 2021 so far in which they have propelled themselves firmly into the battle at the top end of the table, but unfortunately for supporters things have gone a tad sour in the last week or so.
Three defeats in a row have seen the club fall eight points behind second place Peterborough United, meaning that the club have a huge uphill task if they’re to crack the top two with just five matches remaining.
According to Johnson automatic promotion is still a possibility, but the club must now start preparing for the League One play-offs as a priority.
Speaking to Chronicle Live, Johnson said: “It looks now that it is going to be extremely difficult to get into that top two, which is very disappointing after putting so much effort into getting there.
“Now we have to secure that second chance, but keep going and building performances because you never know it [automatic promotion] might still happen because there are still 15 points to play for.
“We’ve lost three games on the spin, two of those – against Charlton at home and then today – I didn’t think we deserved to lose, but it’s happened.
“There’s not a lot we can do about that.
“There have been three losses, but two of those have been decent performances and the other [at Wigan] was a really bad one.
“We had to react to that bad performance today and we did.
“I didn’t feel like today curtailed momentum in terms of performance.
“I’m disappointed not to have won the game, make no mistake about that, I think we performed well but you have to do that and win, we know that.”
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Sunderland supporters will be devastated at how their promotion push has unraveled this week.
Lee Johnson’s side seemed like the favourites to secure automatic promotion as they picked up win after win during the opening months of 2021, but unfortunately things have since gone south.
Any hopes of finishing in the top two are all-but done now, and so the focus has to be on ensuring that the team are mentally prepared for the play-offs.