As this preview lands a day before we record the latest edition of the podcast, it's obviously difficult to gauge what the mood will be like in the studio come Thursday evening. Tonight feels like our biggest game in a long, long while. I think that's partially due to the fact it falls during one our most bizarre seasons in recent memory. But since the arrival of Gus Poyet, it's hard not to have a tinge of optimism regardless of our league position.
Gus has given us a great chance of staying up. But tonight he has the chance to really achieve something in his first season at Sunderland in getting us to Wembley. What a ridiculously good effort that would be.
Past managers have spoken about high expectations at the club and the pressures that come with being Sunderland boss. In reality though, that's a load of rubbish. Yes we've been 'starved of success' and all that clichéd garbage. The fact is that if the lads go out and give a good account of themselves at Old Trafford tonight, even if we lose the game, the 9,000 who have made the journey will rise and applaud them off the pitch.
The greatest frustration of all with Sunderland is not the constant let downs over the years. It's the manner of them. All too often do we get ourselves into a great position only to let ourselves down at the last. We need to do ourselves justice tonight. That's all we can ask. Leave nothing on the pitch. We can't afford to start the game like we did on Saturday, as excellent as Southampton were.
As mentioned, we'll be backed by a massive travelling support. I know it's not the done thing to slate our own supporters, but it'll probably be something I tread the water's edge of tomorrow. Whoever gets picked tonight, whether you like them or not, you have to back them. Slag them off in the pub before, after, at work the next day or whatever. But when you're at the game, I fail to see the benefit of slaughtering individual players. Booing them off as they're subbed or sarcastically cheering their every touch can only be counter productive.
I'm in no doubt that those travelling down today will likely contain the majority of those who also find this behaviour moronic. Anyway, more on that tomorrow night too.
We've also got the small matter of an FA Cup 4th round tie, followed by another 'winnable home game' (Yup, we've all been fooled by those before) against Stoke City to preview. I imagine if we get to the cup final, that the chat may be top heavy in that department. It's also likely we'll all still be drunk. Should be fun!
Joining us in the studio is Gary Foster from The Shields Gazette. We'll also have broadcast journalist and general Sunderland legend Simon Crabtree on the phone. We'll get some Stoke stuff from TeamTalk's Mark Holmes too. You'll find it on Roker Report amongst other places, like Soundcloud, or you could even subscribe on iTunes.
Last week's pod is probably still worth a listen if you want to hear a preview of tonight's game, too. You can follow us on Twitter too using @WiseMenSayPod for other 'hilarious' banter.