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Captain's Blog: Plenty To Look Forward To For Sunderland Despite Transfer Silence

Don't Panic!
Don't Panic!

The transfer window hasn't been kind to Sunderland fans this summer. I said at the beginning of July that it would be a long and frustrating summer for us, and that has proven to be the case.

In the modern game drama surrounds the transfer market. Perhaps it is because everything is crammed into two tiny windows of opportunity. Perhaps it is due to how easily accessible information is these days, giving it a great sense of theatre and the perception that it is being played out in the public arena. Perhaps it is a combination of them both.

Make no mistake about it - the club will be sharing our frustrations. Ellis Short, Margaret Byrne, and Martin O'Neill are acutely aware of what needs to be done and despite the wall of silence emanating from the Stadium of Light, we can be certain that they are working hard to do what we all know is necessary and trust them to get it done.

But it is that time of year again to, just temporarily, stop obsessing over the Sky Sports News yellow ticker bar. To relinquish our roles as armchair football managers and pundits. To surrender our concerns about who isn't wearing the red and white and just concentrate on backing the lads that are. The football season is just about upon us.

So (at the time of writing) we lack a proven striker, our star player is carrying a knock and hasn't had much preparation, and our pre-season results have been about as inspiring as a Michael Owen self-motivation seminar. So what? Since when has anything ever been ideal at Sunderland? It has never stopped us loving and relishing our football before.

You know why football is the world's most popular sport? Because anything can happen. It doesn't matter that we are playing a Champions League team who have spent quite freely this summer. We have to play them some time.

I have seen many fans claiming that this week's opening fixture of the season should be 'written off' in light of the lack of new attacking reinforcements and such defeatist nonsense is difficult to digest. Is that really where we are at as a set of supporters?

I can understand that the transfer window has become a massive part in football, but it is little more than soap opera really, sensationalized out of all proportion by a social-media savvy press who pray on the modern thirst for instant information. It is entertaining and at times enthralling.

Football, however, will always ultimately have sport at its core, not signings. The idea that any 11 players can beat any other 11 players on any given day.

No one gave an injury and illness-ravaged Sunderland a prayer against Manchester City on New Years Day, for example. On paper it was a City win at a canter. On grass it was different. No one thought we could go to Chelsea with the wounds of derby humiliation still fresh and whilst missing Darren Bent and get any kind of result, but we did.

No one gave either Wigan or QPR a prayer of staying up last season looking at their respective run-ins on paper, yet both have Premier League fixtures this weekend. Who would have predicted Everton would shatter Manchester United's title dreams at Old Trafford from two goals down and with just seven minutes left? No one.

Unless something drastic happens, Sunderland will always be the underdogs going away to Arsenal. The vast majority of teams are and this will be no different. Ellis Short could personally deliver every one of his manager's top summer targets to the Emirates away dressing room and we would still be the underdogs.

They are not invincible, though, and despite the lack of additions Sunderland and Martin O'Neill are no mugs. There isn't a single Premier League manager who will be taking us lightly this coming season and we shouldn't either.

The transfer situation will be resolved soon enough. That is one good thing about the deadline. We will know where we stand with regards how the team will shape-up for the season before long and the torment of silence is finite. The first day of the new season should be embraced regardless of that though. It is a chance to hit the reset button and for us to step back on that rollercoaster.

But at the end of the day we are Sunderland. Masters of the inexplicable. We are playing in the most exciting league in the world with a manager of genuine pedigree at the helm backed by a chairman who has never let us down before. If we stop focusing on every little thing we don't have at this precise moment in time, we'll see that we have a hell of a lot to be proud of as well as plenty to look forward to.

Enjoy it folks. Football is back!

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