The pitch conditions at the Stadium of Light are making it very difficult for Sunderland to play the way Lee Johnson would like them to.
The Black Cats adapted successfully to earn a 1-0 win over Portsmouth at the weekend but the challenge remains.
Johnson explained how the pitch is affecting their style of play when he spoke to ChronicleLive.
He said: “I can’t play to the philosophy I want, it’s as simple as that.
“But we can only control the controllables, and that means adapting.
“It’s no excuse because we still have players who can play forward, to receive forward, and to run forward.
“Our challenge is to make a forward pass a quality pass and not just a hit-and-hope pass.
“That’s what we’ll have to do until we can manage the pitch a bit better in terms of the regrowth.”
It is a sobering reality check for a club as big as Sunderland to encounter a problem like this and it puts their fall from grace into perspective.
However, Johnson and the players look to be making the best of a bad situation, with just one home game between now and 19th February, against rock bottom side Doncaster Rovers, the pitch issues should not have a detrimental impact on their season.
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It was a less than advantageous pitch that Sunderland were beaten 4-0 by Portsmouth on at Fratton Park earlier on the season.
That was due to bad weather, but there is a sense of justice in Johnson’s men making amends in narrowly getting past Pompey at the weekend.
There are no excuses for Sunderland in their automatic promotion push this season, no matter how well Rotherham United, Wycombe Wanderers and Wigan Athletic perform, the pressure will be on the Black Cats to avoid another nervy play-off campaign.
Sunderland travel to a Bolton Wanderers side next time out who have their tails up after Dion Charles opened his account for the club at the weekend, an intriguing challenge for Johnson to consider against another easy-on-the-eye footballing team.