It's nearly Christmas and we're finding that the team we support is in an all too familiar position. It could be any festive period from the last few years couldn't it? Yes, Sunderland are in their annual relegation scrap and are fighting for their lives but is there anything different about it this time around? Are there any small morsels of hope we can cling onto as we go into 2016? Well, two words - Sam Allardyce.
We've carried off miracle escapes before but you get the sense that this achievement can't be sustained. Our luck may just run out this time around. However, even if that is to be the case, come May 2016, Sam Allardyce must still be in charge next season. We've made the correct appointment and I'm absolutely convinced with every fibre of my being that he is the right man to lead Sunderland going forward.
It's imperative that Big Sam gets a run at this job. In fact, the importance of providing the former West Ham manager with the opportunity to dig deep foundations here on Wearside can't be underestimated. Put simply, Allardyce is a proven Premier League manager. With the exception of Martin O'Neill we haven't really ever had this at Sunderland in recent times. Yes Steve Bruce had done well at Wigan but that was one team over a relatively short period. No one else has consistently been able to demonstrate their abilities to perform at the highest level in this league, with a number of different teams.
Dick Advocaat, Roy Keane, Ricky Sbragia, Gus Poyet and Paulo Di Canio were all gambles. Arguably Dick was the right man just at the wrong time. He wasn't up for the fight in the end but was honest enough to admit it. Some of the others have enjoyed varying degrees of achievement but ultimately if Ellis Short is looking for a sure thing - Sam Allardyce is as close to it as you get.
Long-term success has to be the aim, as far fetched and unrealistic as it may appear at this moment. Therefore who else could we turn to if we're relegated under Allardyce? Who else, who would realistically join Sunderland, has the experience and expertise to lead our team back to the top flight? We must accept that we can't keep the managerial merry-go-round in constant spin and stick with him.
Earlier I asked is anything different this time around. Well, Allardyce is indeed the difference. Even if success takes a while to achieve, we already have the answer to our problems in place we just need to put our complete faith in Big Sam and give him enough time to find the right path. If Santa Claus could bring a present to all Sunderland supporters I'd assert giving us all four years of Allardyce would be the best we could hope for.