After defeating Leeds United at the Stadium of Light in December, the Black Cats won a goalless draw in West Yorkshire to further jeopardize Daniel Farke’s team’s chances of promotion.

Leeds had a lot of possession when playing at home, but they had very little opportunity to score due to excellent defensive play by Sunderland.

Dan Ballard, Luke O’Nien, and Trai Hume demonstrated excellent performances while operating as a trio in the central defensive role. Timothee Pembele and Callum Styles effectively contained Leeds’ wide players in their wing-back positions.

The outcome was Sunderland’s second clean sheet in as many days, but Dodds is not content with his team’s organization and dedication; he wants to see more from them.


Sunderland's Mike Dodds sets out head coach ambition but insists he's in no  rush - Chronicle Live


“I’m delighted for them,” declared the acting head coach. We have drew the game, not won it, so I don’t want to get too emotional. To be totally honest, I don’t want to be sitting here celebrating draws, but we have to accept the positives from the game, and I think there were a lot of them.

“I felt that we played excellent out-of-possession football and that Leeds would never score, break us down, or carve us open.” I thought our careless play gave them every opportunity.

“I’ve communicated to the team that my main disappointment was our lack of quality when in possession of the ball. I believe the game would have been much smoother for us if we had shown better quality with our passing. We turned the ball over too frequently, but I’m pleased with how we executed our plan to neutralize their threats.

“I consider them to be the top team in the league, so to face them twice and not concede a goal across both matches speaks volumes about the team and our preparation for these games.

“I previously switched to a five-man defense for Sunderland’s win against Leeds in my previous stint as interim manager, and it worked well again tonight. With five players across the backline, we were solid and well-organized throughout. We recognized the importance of limiting Leeds’ opportunities out wide.

“I was mindful of not simply replicating our approach from earlier in the season for this game. However, after observing a significant amount of football, including games from the past, I concluded that due to Leeds’ tendency to push their full-backs high, it made sense to adopt a back five formation, as they naturally fit into our defensive shape anyway.

“That was our rationale, and we stuck to a similar strategy as we did at the Stadium of Light. We applied more pressure through the middle of the pitch and I was confident in our defensive structure.

“I never felt that Leeds were likely to score, which is a significant achievement. Nonetheless, there’s a hint of disappointment because our ball retention was quite sloppy.”

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