Miraculously, we’ve seen a new player join us – Papy Djilobodji from Chelsea. I have to be honest, I barely know anything about him but from looking at him he appears to be a big lad.
That’s a start, but everyone at the club knows more is needed. I believe we have the makings of a very good Premier League side and the spine we have offers us something to build on.
Obviously the objective on Saturday at Manchester City is to not get beat and hope that Pep Guardiola’s methods haven’t settled in yet. But even if we do get beat, I don’t think that’ll be the game that defines our season.
Sunderland haven’t allowed me to have expectations over the last few seasons but, as I’ve said before, all I expect and want from this season is to not be in a relegation battle. Don’t get me wrong - I know we will be looking over our shoulder at points during the season. I accept that. I’m not expecting us to challenge for a top ten position this season either.
But what I am expecting is to not under-perform against average sides. What I am expecting is to be able to beat all three promoted sides and the likes of Bournemouth, Watford, Crystal Palace and West Brom, especially at home. I want the Stadium of Light to be a fortress again; some place where visiting teams used to fear coming to. I want us to have a solid home campaign where we will pick up points that will see us to a comfortable mid-table Premier League finish.
That shouldn’t be too much to ask for, really.
If we are to see any progress under Moyes, who I believe is a very good fit for us, I highly doubt we’d see a massive amount of it this season. At the risk of stating the bloody obvious, he’s right when he says that this will be a long-term thing and that’s something we’ve all craved for years.
As great as relegating Newcastle (I don’t care what they say, we mathematically helped send them down) felt in May I feel it’s a sad thing if that’s what we remember from the last few years. I don’t want to say: ‘remember when we stayed up and sent the Mags down’. I want to be able to say: ‘look at when we won the cup’ or ‘look at when we finished in the top seven and qualified for Europe.’ Staying up over the last four seasons, even as great as the ‘Great Escape’ felt at the time, is not an achievement. That should be almost guaranteed. Leicester, West Ham and Southampton in particular for me had seasons to be proud of last season. I’m not expecting us to ever be close to winning the Premier League but I want us to attempt to achieve what West Ham, Southampton or even Stoke have done in recent years.
Is that me being overly-optimistic? Probably.
I said this with Allardyce and I’ll say it with Moyes - we have a chance to finally move away from being a relegation-battling team in the Premier League and be more than that. I’m praying we accept that chance and take it with open arms.