We all enjoy a moan. Some people more than others. We all know that one bloke who seems to get their kicks from having a good old fashioned whinge. I’ve certainly sent my fair share of angry letters to my mobile phone contract provider (for the sake of privacy, let’s call them “Vodaphone”). However, there's a time and a place for it. I would argue that after two consecutive league wins – the first two of the season – this is not the right time.
And yet, I have seen, in match reports and on social media, plenty of fans and journalists using our 3-0 win against Hull as a stick to beat us with. "Look at the number of chances they created", "did you see the possession stats?", and "if Hull had scored first…" are just a few examples of the negative comments I have seen. Our performance against Hull was not perfect. But who on earth was expecting perfection?
The most important thing was that we won. Football is and always will be determined by who takes their chances and who doesn’t. It is why a good striker will always be the hottest commodity (I love you, JD). Five years ago, possession football was all the rage. Last year, it was all about the counter-attack. Different tactics and game-plans will continue to go in and out of fashion more often than Pogba will have his hair cut, but they all share one thing in common: they are designed to get results.
Never mind the possession stats, we had the same number of chances in the game as Hull. The difference is we took them. We were far more efficient and clinical than they were. Yes, Pickford was outstanding but let’s not forget that it is his job to make saves (however brilliant they were). So why are some fans choosing to see the negatives in our performance?
The most frustrating type of comment I have seen, particularly on Twitter, are those who say something like: “but it’s Liverpool next and we’ll get murdered if we play like that” Well, yes, yes we will. But we’re expected to get slaughtered away to Liverpool. If we get anything against Liverpool this weekend it will be a bonus. Like it was last season when everyone expected us to get hammered and we drew 2-2. If we have any chance of staying up this season then we will need to win the games we are expected to win against the teams around us. We did that against Bournemouth and we did that emphatically against Hull.
I am certainly not saying that all our problems are suddenly fixed. I’m not that naïve. I’m not saying that wins against Bournemouth and Hull are going to kick-start a surprise push for Europe. We still have significant problems in the squad that need addressing. We are not a good team because we’ve won two on the bounce.
All I’m saying is that we finally have a chance to focus on the positives from the past few weeks. And there are so many positives to reflect on. The rise and rise of man-mountain Victor Anichebe. The incredible form of our rave-happy ‘keeper. Defoe’s 150th career league goal. Ndong starting to settle in to the team. The fact we finally kept a clean-sheet. The fact Billy Jones appears to be a player re-born. The fact that our floodlights worked for the majority of the game.
You’re a Sunderland fan – please just be happy while you can. You should know by now that disappointment is never far away!