Now the World Cup is over, we thought you'd remind you of a couple of passages of play from the season just gone that show how Gus Poyet was able to get Sunderland playing with style when the pressure is on during the middle of an intense, seemingly extremely long season.
First up was our vital home game with Cardiff City. Despite coming off the back of a draw and a win at Manchester City and Chelsea, Sunderland were under huge pressure in a game they had to win, we were 3 points from safety at the time, with Cardiff one point better off and the Welsh side had come into the game with 4 points from the previous two games.
We took control from the start with Connor Wickham heading us into the lead and Fabio Borini doubling our lead on the stroke of half-time, with Cardiff being reduced to 10-men after Cala was adjudged to be last man.
Then, with just under 20 minutes to play and Sunderland 2-0 ahead, the team build slowly down the right until they sense an opening and then quickly and confidently, open up Cardiff and are only denied a goal by a goalkeeper being in the right place at the right time:
We make that 18 passes from Vito Mannone throwing the ball out, to Fabio Borini getting a shot off, with all but the two central defenders being involved in the move.
As good as that move was, the best was yet to come.
After completing a 4-0 win over Cardiff, we visited the reigning champions Manchester United at Old Trafford for Ryan Giggs' second game in charge. With the media full of praise for the Welshman after his team brushed aside Norwich in their previous game, the game was expected to be something of a formality for United with the hosts looking to push on for a Europa League spot.
Seb Larsson threw a spanner in the works on the half hour mark, as he converted Connor Wickham's cross. Then, with time ticking down and approaching the time when Man Utd are usually at their strongest, Sunderland decided to turn on the style and show the home side how football should be played:
That is the best example you will see of how Gus Poyet wants his Sunderland team to play. Patient, always looking for a team-mate, defenders who do not look to hoof first, plenty of options for the player in possession but not passing for the sake of passing, only passing while they look for a good opportunity to get in on goal.
From back to front, back to the goalkeeper, then right through the team once again until Borini is unlucky to see his shot come back off the bar. 28 passes in all, with only Jozy Altidore not getting a touch in the build up.
We still require surgery in the transfer window, with former loanees Santiago Vergini, Marcos Alonso and Borini hopefully high up on the wanted list but with a little bit of added quality elsewhere (notably central midfield) and a full pre-season behind him, Poyet could finally make a Sunderland team with an identity and a style of play that we can all be proud of.