Sunderland may have lost to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday but Kevin Phillips has identified one positive that could come out of the match.
Phil Parkinson has been reluctant to change things in recent weeks due to the Black Cats’ run of form that took them to fourth place in the league at one point.
However, after failing to win in three he decided to hand starts to summer signings Josh Scowen and Antoine Semenyo against Rovers, but the decision backfired and a below-par performance followed, with his side managing just two shots on target.
Despite that, Phillips feels that dropping Lynden Gooch for Semenyo was a necessary step, as the American’s contribution had tailed off recently – failing to score or make an assist in his three matches prior to Tuesday.
Reflecting on the defeat to the Gas, Phillips told Football Insider:
“Semenyo looked bright at the weekend. So I am not surprised he got a start.
“I know that Gooch has been carrying a slight knock. He and Maguire were not up to their usual tricks last weekend and they have had two or three quiet games. There was no surprise that Phil changed it.
“Phil only makes one, a maximum of two changes where Jack Ross was criticised for making too many. Phil just freshens it up.”
It is little surprise that Parkinson made changes on Tuesday despite only being seconds away from getting back to winning ways against Gillingham last weekend.
However, the decision to drop Gooch was a bit of a risk, and although it was a good idea at the time to give him a rest it now seems there was little point in doing so, as matches have now been postponed.
Regardless of that, the fact Sunderland declined in their display should act as a concern for Parkinson. Supporters may have been impressed with the desire shown by Semenyo but he lacked a killer instinct in the final third, failing to make a key pass on his way to a lowly WhoScored rating of 6.4.
As a result, when the north-east outfit do return to action Parkinson may have the repeat problem of being unable to change things up positively when he finds his team trailing or needing to find a winner, and he needs players like Semenyo to show more.
Elsewhere, Sunderland fans have been expressing their disappointment with one man following the mid-week defeat…