April 18, 2024

Sunderland play Ipswich Town in the Championship on Saturday evening.
Sunderland manager Michael Beale has urged his players to focus on the positives of their recent league campaign as they attempt to put a bitterly disappointing derby day behind them.

Beale stated that he and his players will have a “honest conversation” about what went wrong and where they fell short as a squad in the 3-0 loss against Newcastle United, and he claims the response to that conversation on the training ground has encouraged him.
Sunderland return to Championship action with a challenging journey to second-placed Ipswich Town, followed by a visit to the Stadium of Light by fellow play-off candidates Hull City the following Friday night. Beale says he has no illusions about the magnitude of the task, but that the players should approach the games with optimism.

“Last Saturday was a disappointing day for everyone, fans, players and staff,” Beale said in a statement.


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“However, it was a big learning day for the team, and the response in training has been fantastic.” We have to concentrate now because we have a wonderful game against a very good squad.

“Our focus is back on these 20 league games now, which is necessary because we’re going away to a team that is second in the league.” We had a wonderful group discussion, and to be honest, the response in training has been fantastic. They’re a young, cheerful group who enjoys training in any case. There were a lot of things in the game that disappointed us, but it’s all input. It’s not the level at which we compete every week, but it’s the level at which we want to compete every week. It was obvious that there was a chasm, and we needed to keep working and going forward.

“In the league we play in, we’ve won four of our last seven and we’re unbeaten in three,” he said.

“We now have a big game against Hull in front of us.” Because of that knock-on effect, these games against the teams around us are worth slightly more than three points. Alex Pritchard scored his first goal against Preston, and Nazariy Rusyn also scored his first goal, which was crucial for the club, so we’re getting more guys contributing and adding to those who have been our goal scorers. We’ve kept two clean sheets in three league games, so there are some encouraging signs.

“We know we have 20 games left and everything is on the line, and our ultimate goal is to get back into the playoffs and go one step further than we did last year.” Of course, there are a lot of teams that want it, and it’s a tight race, so we need to win every game.”

Ipswich Town have not won in five Championship games, but several of their recent games have been against fellow promotion rivals, and they have only lost once in that stretch, to Leeds United.


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