LEE JOHNSON believes Sunderland have to draw a “line in the sand” to ensure their League One promotion challenge is not derailed by any more embarrassments.

The manager waited more than 50 minutes before facing the media after Saturday’s humiliating 5-1 defeat at Rotherham cost them ground in their bid to catch the division’s top two.

Johnson was quick to take the blame for the defeat – Sunderland’s third in five league matches – but also openly questioned the attitude his players displayed at the New York Stadium.

The club are continuing to enjoy cup success, and have a Carabao Cup quarter-final at Arsenal to look forward to just before Christmas, but having led the table at the end of September, they have finished October in danger of slipping out of the top six.

Johnson is demanding a response when Sunderland return to South Yorkshire tomorrow to face Sheffield Wednesday.

“It’s very easy to hand out home truths after a game like that, but we’re pretty honest with the lads anyway,” Johnson said. “We have a couple of problems that need resolving, but so does every other squad in the land. And sometimes it’s just a by-product of an intense turnaround from game to game.

“We knew we had to compete against Rotherham, and we didn’t do it, and that’s the really frustrating thing. It was too laissez-faire from the first action. And that was all said (to the players afterwards). And to be fair, it was taken on."

Ross Stewart had brought Sunderland level in the first half with a well-taken goal, but the Wearsiders were 3-1 down by the time Aiden McGeady was sent off for a second bookable offence, having clattered into Rotherham’s impressive wing-back Chiedozie Ogbene.

What frustrated Johnson was his belief that lessons have not been learned since the 4-0 defeat at Portsmouth.

He said: “We have to learn the lesson, but we’ve already had a couple of those lessons this season, such as the defeat at Portsmouth, and then we’ve continued with the same pattern. So whether that’s a change of personnel, whether that’s a change of tactic, whether that’s additions in January, that’s something we’ve got to snuff out to be more solid when we’re under the cosh."