No matter who seems to be placed in charge of Sunderland Football Club, it would appear that they are destined for mediocrity.
The Mackems haven’t won at home since November and they are yet to pick up three points at the Stadium of Light under Lee Johnson.
There have been signs of improvement – a 4-0 win over promotion hopefuls Lincoln proved as much. However, when they’ve played in the north-east, things haven’t gone well.
It’s a squad ravaged by injuries and it showed on Monday evening when they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Plymouth.
Defensively, it was a horrendous night for Johnson’s men, a team that showed few signs of the solidity they demonstrated in their 3-0 win over Wimbledon.
Though, the chief suspect in the defeat was Callum McFadzean. The left-back combined nicely to set up Aiden O’Brien’s strike but in defence, he was particularly abject, arguably at fault for both goals.
Plymouth’s first goal – scored by Adam Lewis after 11 minutes – came following some eye-catching interlinking play on their right-hand side. Passes were exchanged just inside the area but McFadzean didn’t get close enough to his man and didn’t attempt to make a tackle. As a result, Sunderland conceded.
It was a similar story for Joe Edwards’ winner. The ball was worked down the Mackems’ left-hand side again where McFadzean completely let go of his marker. Had he picked the runner or tucked in more, he could have prevented a goal.
It was an awful night for the defender who was standing in for the injured Denver Hume. He suffered a setback in his bid to return to fitness and with potentially two months before he returns to action again, this performance was concerning.
He lost possession 17 times – the third most of anyone on the pitch – while the 27-year-old failed to make a single tackle. Given the focus of Plymouth’s attacks were down McFadzean’s channel, this is incredibly damning.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the full-back has disappointed in recent months. He gave away a penalty against Wimbledon last month and on too many occasions since he came into the side, Johnson has been let down.
You can make a case for him to be dropped. After all, Dion Sanderson helped to keep a clean sheet while playing at left-back during the Black Cats’ draw with Northampton. He played at right-back on Monday evening, but Max Power can easily play there.
He was a big threat from that position on the pitch when Sunderland beat Port Vale in the Papa John’s trophy.
With McFadzean offering very little from a defensive point of view, Johnson must consider this tactical change going forward.
After all, he should be seething with his left-back’s performance on Monday. He cost Sunderland considerably with his inability to defend.