Sunderland haven't got a good track record in recent times but we shouldn't forget that there have been morsels of success on and off the pitch. Trying to recapture moments of yesteryear can be foolish in football though, as lightening rarely strikes twice (just ask Kevin Keegan). However, wistful glances back in time shouldn't always be mistaken simply for nostalgia. Something productive can, in fact, be borne from that. Therefore, at a time when the club is once again in flux the Black Cats should instead look to build on existing traditions rather than waste time stumbling over the creation of new ones.
Traditions? Those usually involve defeat and relegation you cry. Yes, but that shouldn't always mean we rip up the template and start entirely afresh. As one head coach/manager leaves a new one emerges and becomes the new god to pray to. Sunderland will never progress and move on if the club is continually at step one of a new methodology.
Yes we've lacked quality in the past but we've meandered off track, lost our way and forgotten that actually we didn't need to throw the baby out with the bath water. There was a foundation already there, a tradition that could be evolved. It isn't about standing still after all, but there was never a need to continually lurch from one latest fad to another. Udinese models, Directors of Football, formations and styles of play all come and go but traditions are solid, more tangible and can be everlasting.
Sunderland are not Swansea City, Southampton or any other club for that matter. There hasn't been a long run up to the Premier League from the lower divisions. The Black Cats don't have the time to learn nor the personnel to play pretty possession based football on the hoof. Some of the sides that do, have had a stretch away from the spotlight to find themselves, to work out what works, for them.
We shouldn't simply copy because the media deem them fashionable or indeed because they're successful at the moment. We're not comparing like for like therefore to try to do so would be foolish. If you'll allow me a slightly odd metaphor, in recent times we've become like the Premier League neighbour looking on enviously as next-door wheel out the shiny new lawnmower. It might well cut their grass efficiently but our garden is block paved - no need for lawnmowers here.
Let's be clear this isn't a cry for Peter Reid or Kevin Phillips to return to the club. It isn't suggesting 4-4-2 makes a reappearance either. This is not about cut and pasting the past onto the present. That won't work. However add pace and a dash of quality to the elements we had but have since lost and we'll get somewhere. That would be a heady cocktail indeed. A direct, attacking style of play with aggression, passion, guts and an endeavour not seen since Roy Keane left is what's missing. Frankly, the characters have gone too. Look at that checklist of traits and it's something our football club was steeped in, since time immemorial. There's nothing wrong with that. We shouldn't be ashamed. This is Sunderland. That's our identity, let's get it back.