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ROKER RAMBLE: Changing Perceptions

The stadium gasps, time ticks past at a fraction of its normal speed and the noise is replaced by a heart-wrenching silence. An arena filled with optimism and belief seconds later lies dejected and sullen.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

As Anthony Martial latched onto a Vito Mannone save to equalise for Manchester United over a week ago, a sense of inevitability unquestionably filled the minds of many a supporter in the Stadium of Light.

Prior to the Sam Allardyce era, we have become used to a number of horrible traits that the club have failed to shake off, manager after manager.

One of those is our impressive ability to completely fold after conceding a goal. Whether we find ourselves leading by two goals, dominating a game unable to find that killer goal or just being plain Sunderland, once the opposition find the back of the net, we know what the eventual outcome will likely be.

Under Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat last season, we scored the first goal on fourteen occasions, keeping four clean sheets. If you take away the games we didn't concede a goal in, we only had the ability to go on and win in a staggering three matches.

In Di Canio's and Poyet's split season, if you take away the clean sheet victories once again, the club only went on to win two games after scoring the first goal, and in the season before that, we only saw victory twice out of seven games where we took the lead before conceding.

If you add on top of that the times we let a goal in first and never look like recovering, it has certainly got to the point where our mindset has been altered to think the game is only heading in one direction once the opposition hit the back of the net.

This season hasn't been different either. The Aston Villa away fixture is one moment where we never looked like winning after conceding, but the best example comes from our next opponents, West Ham United. As we took a two goal advantage, self destruction mode was pressed and the same old collapse saw another potential win snatched away.

Since Allardyce joined the club however, especially since New Year, the usual Sunderland way seems to have had a slight change, which will hopefully see for a healthy improvement in the future.

Although the collapse at White Hart Lane against Tottenham was very Sunderland, though tired legs could be used as an excuse, the battling, never giving up attitude that hasn't been present for a number of years seems to have finally turned up to the party.

In the six-pointer against Villa, once the lead was squandered, the potential for a spirit-crushing defeat was high. Likewise with Benik Afobe's opener for Bournemouth, it's likely the Sunderland of yesteryear would have failed in their pursuits to find an equaliser.

The fightbacks against Swansea and Liverpool represent a strong belief in the squad, and it's certainly uplifting to have the thought that even if we fall behind the game isn't over.

Reviewing the United match, that attitude is certainly one of the most refreshing aspects to come from it. To beat one of the big boys, regardless of what their lowly Europa League chasing position suggests, is certainly still a big thing. But to also do it by conceding and not letting our heads drop, channeling it into a fantastic second half performance and grabbing a much deserved three points is such an uplifting moment for a supporter, especially as we head into the business end of the season.

If we're going to fight our way out of another mess we find ourselves in, this spirit will be a huge bonus for our chances of survival. Thankfully, Big Sam has come in and instilled a fighting belief within the squad to the point where we head into games with our perceptions altered slightly. How long will it last, who knows, but long may it continue!

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