Sunderland have suffered back-to-back defeats and went down with a whimper at the New York Stadium on Saturday.
Lee Johnson will be returning to the drawing board in looking to assess his own and his team’s performance. The Black Cats were beaten 4-0 at Portsmouth just before the last international break and would have been frustrated with a 1-0 loss to relegation threatened Charlton Athletic last weekend, so the 5-1 hammering at Rotherham United will be a huge cause for concern for Johnson.
The Black Cats have never looked better in League One than at times at the start of this season and will still feel bullish about achieving their automatic promotion ambitions this term.
However, Johnson was keen to look deeper into how their style of play saw them struggle against Paul Warne’s well oiled Millers machine, when he spoke to ChronicleLive.
He explained: “We have to use this as a line in the sand and make sure that when we play teams like this we adapt to this particular gamestyle.
“We might lose a bit of fluidity in that, and I have to decide what I’m willing to give up in these type of games in order to battle better than we did. We’re a really good pressing team, but when teams don’t give us anything to press because of their gamestyle, we find it very difficult.”
Four of the Millers’ five goals came from crosses, three of them headers and one finish inside the six yard box, certainly a tactic that other teams will look to exploit moving forward if it is not addressed.
Rotherham United away appears to be one of the most difficult fixtures in the calendar at the moment and therefore coming away empty handed would not have been that much of a surprise.
It is the manner of the defeat which is very concerning, Jayden Stockley scored a header from a cross in the loss to Charlton and that type of goal repeated itself at the New York Stadium four times.
Johnson has been known in his managerial career for hot and cold streaks and if he cannot arrest the slide soon, in what is such a competitive third tier, Sunderland will drop out of the top six in the near future.