If Sunderland don’t achieve promotion this season, they will be desperately unfortunate.
At the moment, the Mackems are a winning machine. They haven’t lost since early February in the league, a run stretching 11 games.
Lee Johnson has led a phenomenal revival and we saw their fighting spirit once again versus Oxford United on Good Friday. The Black Cats went 1-0 down and then had to deal with a fired-up Karl Robinson, who was sent to the stands.
Sunderland fought back, though, eventually prevailing 3-1. It was a victory which keeps them in third place with just three points separating them and top spot. Johnson’s men also have two games in hand, meaning that promotion is well and truly in their own hands.
Life at the Stadium of Light is incredibly positive right now but, if you could pick one negative, it would probably be Callum McFadzean.
The left-back scored his first league goal for Sunderland in the 1-1 draw with Lincoln recently but, for the most part, he’s had a desperately poor campaign.
It all started when the defender gave away a penalty against AFC Wimbledon back in December. Since that moment he’s been danced around consistently by opposition wingers and full-backs.
McFadzean has been a constant scapegoat for Sunderland and showed again in the Papa John’s Trophy final that he’s not too adept defensively. On that occasion, Otis Khan completed a considerable four dribbles for Tranmere.
Unfortunately, the 27-year-old was well below par again in the win over Oxford United. Writing at half-time, Sunderland journalist James Hunter said he was “being led a merry dance by Shodipo.”
Indeed, McFadzean was consistently caught out by the winger, who proved to be one of the opposition’s most dangerous players.
It was in possession where the defender was arguably the worst. He surrendered the ball on 18 occasions and completed a measly 57% of his passes. On top of that, he made just two tackles against the lively Olamide Shodipo.
It was a performance which will have left Johnson rather displeased. Time and again over the last few months, he has been let down by McFadzean. The manager can take solace in the fact that the 27-year-old may not be in the starting XI for much longer, though.
Denver Hume wasn’t ready for this clash but he completed 75 minutes in a behind-closed-doors friendly earlier this week.
With McFadzean in such torrid form, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him quickly usurped by Hume once the latter is back from injury.