Lee Johnson apologises to Sunderland fans after 5-1 thrashing at Rotherham United

Lee Johnson says he will have to make changes after Sunderland slumped to a woeful 5-1 defeat against Rotherham United.
Lee Johnson watches on at Rotherham UnitedLee Johnson watches on at Rotherham United
Lee Johnson watches on at Rotherham United

The Black Cats were not helped by a red card shown to Aiden McGeady for a second bookable offence early in the second half, but in truth they were second best for the first minute.

Most worryingly, it continued a trend in which Sunderland have struggled against physical sides.

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This was the second time this season they have lost by four goals.

Johnson apologised to the sell-out away end.

"It's three points we wanted but I don't think we showed that anywhere near enough," Johnson said.

"The first half was where it started.

"Their gamestyle completely nullified us completely and we couldn't get out.

"A lot of their play was down our left side and it's a glaring weakness, if we don't get have a good day that side is quite easy to disrupt us on.

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"Sometimes you've to revert to winning your individual battles, physically or technically.

"We got back level against the run of play which I was so pleased about, and then we had a spell of about fifteen minutes where it was about equal, but they still looked the most threatening.

"But it was men against boys, it really was. The amount of lazy fouls we gave away, we were leggy, everywhere the ball had just been.

"I know the fans will be hurting badly.

"In the big picture of the season, we have to learn the lessons. But we know we've already had a couple of those and the pattern has continued.

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"So whether it's a change of personnel, a change of tactics, additions in January, there's clearly something that we've got snuff out to be more solid in the times when we're under the cosh.

"As individuals we've to get back to basics, and we've got to be better.

"Our big losses seem like a capitulation. Today was a really bad one and it's something that we have to limit."

Johnson conceded that he may have to alter his approach for games such as these, with his youthful and attacking line up exposed by an impressive opponent.

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"We're a really good pressing team but when teams don't give us anything to press, we find it difficult," Johnson said.

"I picked the team today so I take total responsibility for the performance. At the same time, I want the lads to look after me a bit better because I trust them.

"I'm disappointed, I apologise to the fans. It has to be better.

"I spoke before the game about how we know that these are up there as one of the best teams in this league, so we knew we had to compete, and we didn't do it.

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"That's so frustrating, it was too laissez-faire from the first action.

"That's been said in there, and it's been taken on to be fair.

"This has to be a line in the sand, adapt, and when we play teams like this we cope better. We might lose some fluidity in that and of course, that's my decision to have to make.

"That's what I've got to decide, what am I willing to give up to battle better in games like this?"