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What Can Sunderland Fans Learn From England?

England’s campaign of Euro 2016 might have just got off to one of the most conventionally English starts possible, writes Alex McCain.

Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Namely, we start well, seemingly intent on a comfortable yet hard fought win. Time will tick on and the majority of good chances will remain unconverted; ultimately proving to be a dire consequence when success is snatched away from us in agonising fashion.

But how exactly does watching England relate to the plight of the Sunderland fan? How are international competitions for the highest honours and silverware meant to resonate with a set of fans that see little more than relegation battles?

The answer isn’t to take the situations of Sunderland and England so literally, but instead to look at the recurring themes of the corresponding campaigns.

If there’s one thing the England of recent loves to do, it’s make questionable decisions on the shape of the squad and get off to a bad start – leaving the nation’s 'best' with a mountain to climb. Take the 2010 World Cup as a prime example - England couldn’t get it right against the USA and Algeria, leaving it until the last game of the group stages to secure continuation in the tournament.

That should remind you of a certain North-Eastern footballing outfit.

Sunderland’s annual bad starts to seasons also leave them with an uphill battle from the get-go, with the only notable difference being the ordeal lasting over months as opposed to the weeks of the World Cup.

Moreover, what was England’s goal in the pseudo-sensationalism of making it through the groups? The underwhelming accolade of bowing out at the beginning of the groups? There’s nothing to gloat about there.

Sadly, this is extremely relevant to Sunderland’s situation. Come the end of each season we’re celebrating another year of cheating death, but dramatics aside it’s only a 16th or 17th place finish to a passing glance.

Neither side is celebrating success, but both are settling for non-failure.

But the comparison doesn’t end here, it gets darker.

Fast forward to the next world cup – Brazil in 2014. England once again get off to a bad start against Italy, only to continue this against Uruguay… only to go out at the group stages. A nation with the footballing magnitude of England, to just go out like that.

This is something Sunderland need to learn from, sensationalising a narrow escape from complete failure isn’t something we should get hung up on.

There’s a million and one reasons why this is the case, but having England inadvertently demonstrate it should make it all the more apparent.

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