It would be fair to say that there hasn't been as much of a feel good factor around the club since the cusp of the 21st century when Peter Reid was in charge, still liked by everyone, and took us to two 7th place finishes, and a marvelous promotion season before that.
Thinking about those days, and the team which used to turn out, I started thinking about the parallels to today's SAFC side. Martin O'Neill still has some work to do before he's there with Reid baring in mind what he did for us, but he's well on the way there, and has an approval rating which is through the roof.
Would it be fair to say that the Sunderland side of 2011/12 is basically the same as that of 1999/00 but a sort of 'Version 2.0' ?... Who knows, it could be spot on, it could be a load of tosh, but I'm diving in anyway...
Now then, I'm not naive enough to suggest that Simon Mignolet is the next Tommy Sorensen, but he certainly could be in time. Both arrived as unknowns to the club, from smaller overseas club of whom people had little knowledge. Both of course also saved penalties against the Mags, which not many Sunderland keepers have done over the years.
Mignolet isn't in the class Sorensen was in his prime, but he could be one day. Mignolet is doing very, very well at the moment, and yet to even reach his prime. The sky is the limit for the Belgian, who could still surpass the best 'keeper to play for us in my lifetime.
Right Back - Chris Makin / Phil Bardsley
The fact they're both Manchester lads is a good place to start from here, and both of them big time Manchester United fans. Both are fine enough players, well liked by the fans, both 'hardmen' and another thing in common is their goal ratio. Bardsley may think he has the upper hand, but lets face it, he misses more of his 'trademark' strikes from distance. Makin sort of knew his limitations a bit more I think.
Either way, they're both good enough for their time, and better at defending than going forward.
Left Back - Michael Gray / Kieran Richardson
Quite the opposite of the Makin/Bardsley in that they're both very good going forward. They're also both former Manchester United men, and both have converted from midfield to defence with some aplomb.
Mickey was a fine player, and won England honours whilst at the club, where as many have tipped Richardson to do the same sooner rather than later. To just further compound the fact their similar, they've both got curly hair, and have endured some very dodgy barnets while at the club! (Gray's girly locks, Richardsons rats-tail).
Two big tall lads, better in the air than with the ball at feet I think it would be fair to say, and of course there's the whole 'strawberry blonde' complexion to the pair of lanky defenders.
The comparisons go on in that they both arrived from clubs playing in black and orange/gold in Hull City and Cambridge United, and of course both are dominant in the air.
Central Defender - Steve Bould / Wes Brown
These two provide us with some age and experience. Both of course won multiple trophies with their former clubs, and came to Sunderland to continue their careers when others thought they were on the downturn.
Both the former clubs of these men play in red and white, and both, now they're here perhaps haven't played as much as we would have liked. That said, when they have played, they've been exceptional, becoming a pair of fan favourites in the process.
Right Winger - Nicky Summerbee / Sebastian Larsson
Quite possibly the two finest crossers of the ball to play for the club in the last decade. It's the pinpoint precision of these balls into the box which makes the two comparable, and they chip in with about the same amount of goals too over the course of a season.
There's also the fact that neither are particularly tricky, choosing to just get the ball in there rather than out fox their marker. You could also throw in that both can be used as an emergency right-back, and signed from teams in blue for absolute snips.
Left Winger - Allan Johnston / James McClean
This one doesn't quite fall into the same category as the others, and maybe isn't as similar, but that's going to happen I suppose. Either way, they're both exceptionally talented wingers, and have a great rapport with the supporting left-back. Both manage to regularly beat the opposition fullback with ease, even if they do do it in slightly different ways - McClean is a lot more pacey while Johnston more tricky.
Wingers in the truest sense, and if McClean can develop one or two more tricks to his game, he could be 'Magic' just like Johnston was. Allan of course had a few years on James, so we'll give him time to get there.
Central Midfielder - Stefan Schwarz / Jack Colback
Both players are, or were, a joy to watch. Two left-footed midfielders who aren't blessed with speed, but have that extra yard in their heads and keep the game flowing well, using the ball very, very effectively. Both also chip in with a few goals too, and are firmly fans favourites. The similarities kind of end there, but when you look at Colback and Schwarz, you can see a great degree of class in their play that has rarely been matched.
Colback's development has been fantastic. Schwarz was a fantastic player, in his final years when he came to Sunderland, but young Jack is very much on his way to surpassing the Swedish star.
Central Midfielder - Gavin McCann / Lee Cattermole
Two supposed 'hardmen' again, both fond of a tackle, and occasionally make some pretty bad decisions on that front. That said, both players were the type who grafted hard, and were basically only there to disrupt the opposition, be it with a 'forceful' tackle, or just hustling them out of their comfort zone.
Having both arrived from blue and white North Western sides, albeit for very differing fees, both remain popular on Wearside. Well, in the most part anyway. Two quite similarly styled players.
Striker - Niall Quinn / Nicklas Bendtner
Now then, to get the disclaimer out the way - Nicklas Bendtner isn't and never will be, Niall Quinn. Bendtner's own self belief and arrogance is almost the exact opposite of the rather more humble Quinn's attitude to life.
However, they both provide the perfect foil for their strike partner, Neither are blessed with pace, are both good in the air, and with a much better touch than their height would suggest, according to popular cliche. It could be argued rather controversially that both could have done with adding more goals to their game, but that's one for another day I think.
Bendtner may not have fell in love with the local area in the way Quinn did, but on the pitch, and purely on the pitch, They do have a similar style to their play.
And now to the star men, and it isn't particularly controversial to say that Phillips and Sessegnon are the undoubted star names in their particular sides, and when either didn't or doesn't play, we just don't look the same.
Both men are short, diminutive strikers, capable of producing a moment of magic from absolute nothing, winning more points for the team than anyone else. As a result, both continually throughout their time with Sunderland have been linked with moves away and to the brighter, bigger lights.
Everyone loved Super Kevin Phillips, everyone loves Super Sessegnon. That's a given. Phillips however resisted the lure of other teams for quite some time before eventually caving in, it would be lovely if Sessegnon became a club legend in the same vein before eventually buggering off. Because let's face it, he will one day.
And there it is. I think there's enough comparison's to say that this could well be a very similar side as we look to hit the 'dizzying' heights set by Reid's side all those years ago. Of course not all of them work out as exact matches, but this is version 2.0. A better, stronger version, updated to more modern times.
Lets hope we do go on to achieve for the long term where Reidy dropped off a little.