Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan doesn't mince his words as he criticises Black Cats' arrogance in Portsmouth thumping

Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan admitted the Black Cats showed too much ‘arrogance’ and not enough ‘brilliance’ after they were thumped 4-0 by Pompey on Saturday.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 1:00 pm

Until the weekend, Lee Johnson’s side – who like to play out from the back – had managed to deliver on both fronts as they went in their match-up with the Blues top of the table and unbeaten in eight games.

It made the visitors to Fratton Park the pre-match favourites, especially with Pompey struggling for form and searching for their first win in eight League One outings.

However, just like the weather on the south coast, Sunderland were awful against a home side who were clearly up for the task and the conditions – and Flanagan believes they paid a heavy price for their approach to the game.

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He told the Sunderland Echo: ‘We got our brilliance and our arrogance mixed up.

‘We were too arrogant and not brilliant enough, whereas on Tuesday (against Cheltenham) we had the perfect combination and put them to the sword because of our brilliance.

‘We have an identity and we’ve played that way for the whole season and have played some really good football.

‘You talk to all the boys in the dressing room and they are enjoying it. I’ve played here (Fratton Park) before and we’ve won and I actually haven’t enjoyed it, the style of football.

Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan watches Pompey's Ronan Curtis go past him during Saturday's game at Fratton Park. Picture: Jason Brown

‘Everyone enjoys this style of football but we want to win games and there is a certain way to win games.

‘(Saturday) we should have mixed it up more.

‘I totally understand when we are playing out from the back and making mistakes that it brings pressure from the fans and things like that.

‘But we do have a way of playing and we’ve taken it too literally, and that’s down to the players, it’s not down to the manager.

‘The manager isn’t standing on the sideline shouting “pass it, pass it, play out from the back”.

‘Sometimes it’s us on the pitch. We’ve let the staff down really and I think as a group of players we know that.’

Northern Ireland international Flanagan added he shared his thoughts to his Sunderland team-mates in the dressing room immediately afterwards.

He said something needed to be said following the performance.

‘We have all kind of had a bit of an awakening so I just felt I’d say something,’ he added.

‘I wasn’t the only one who said something, a few others said stuff because we can’t always look to the manager to tell us what to do on the pitch. That comes down to us.’