Wise Men Say: Do We Want To Dare To Dream Again?

Michael Regan

More cup action this week and already the debate has started as to where Sunderland's priorities should lie from here until the season's end. Stephen Goldsmith takes a presents his case and previews this week's podcast.

Well I reckon that trip to Wembley was just what the doctor ordered. Yes, we lost, and without adhering to the a narrative of 'plucky losers', we did more than okay on the day. At half time I sensed, for the first time in the competition, that we were actually going to win the cup. Because speaking of narratives, the Sunderland 1-0 Man City storyline we've all familiarised ourselves with over recent years was playing out to perfection.

We smothered their attacks, we stopped Yaya from dictating and we looked dangerous on the counter attack. What has been missing from that quartet of Stadium Of Light victories against our Hollywood opponents has been moments of awe inspiring brilliance from ridiculously paid individuals in their lineup on the day. It was the only way we could have lost in any one of those games and it heartbreakingly proved to be the difference on Sunday.

So the big question to ask is whether or not we need this kind of emotional disturbance again? Personally, I think we do. We need it as a side, as a club and as fans. For many years prior to 2007, we've strived for midtable mediocrity. We've aimed to be that side who plays Premier League football year in, year out and just hold our own. Unfortunately, relegation battles tend to be the only dramatic scenarios you encounter when such a status is reached and maintained. It's hard to argue that is hasn't affected us all in a strange way.

Home crowds have been quiet, the relationship between fans and players distant and an identity of an unremarkable side without any real, erm....... identity has been established. Fans often pre-occupy themselves with in-house squabbles when there is little to cheer or believe in on the pitch. Financial stability may be the new 'sexy' for club owners but it arouses no football fan. Not really. Observing the mood of supporters eleven miles up the road vouches for that. Observing in a non-obsessive way, you understand.

This cup run, and Wembley in particular, has seemingly put an end to all the loveless support that had become more routine than romantic; if not an end then surely a welcomed hiatus. We never stop loving Sunderland, obviously, but our levels of affection can alter slightly. Wembley was a joyous celebration that united everybody involved with our fine club once more. There was no squabbling, judgement of other fans or shame about anything Sunderland achieved on the day. If a win on Sunday brings us more of that, then I'm all for it.

Plenty of Boro fans have told me in the past that their relegation season of '97 was one of the best they've ever witnessed. Players they connected with reaching the final of two cups is surely the reason for that.

On this week's pod we'll be asking Gary Foster from the Shields Gazette and former Wearside Roar editor Tom Lynn whether they can relate to my theory, or if Premier League status is the be all and end all.

Do join us. You can get it on iTunes here

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