When tentatively looking ahead to tomorrow’s game with Queens Park Rangers, I can’t help but feel that this could well be the defining moment in Simon Grayson’s miserable tenure thus far as Sunderland manager.
Win, and there’s a genuine chance for progression, particularly at home. Lose, and... well, I dread to think what could possibly happen.
The mood amongst the fanbase at the minute is quite strange - some of us are hopeful, some of us are despondent and some have just passed the point of caring anymore. I’m somewhere in the middle of it all, slightly confused at how I should feel about Sunderland’s current predicament.
I’m a season card holder, and in just over two week’s time my final payment for this season leaves my bank - that’ll mean that since our last home win, I’ve spent £400 on my ticket for home matches alone and haven’t even seen us go ahead in a game, never mind win one. I don’t expect much, but... ha’way.
Lets be honest, we won’t get a better chance to improve our fortunes than in tomorrow’s game. I’m not even sorry for bringing this up - QPR haven’t won an away game since February. If we get beat off them then we might as well just jack it all in and play a different sport.
Grayson is a man under pressure, and the real test of a good manager is whether or not he can strive when all attention is on them to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Sunderland are now ten months without a home win, and something has to give eventually. Another loss will see even more calls for Sunderland to sack the former Preston boss, and if we are really going to turn a corner under his watch, it has to start with a victory tomorrow afternoon.
There’s no denying that this squad of players are capable of better. Basic mistakes are costing us on an almost weekly basis, and just keeping clean sheets and staying tight has to be a starting point.
But you have to be blunt when assessing the level of opposition we’re facing in the Championship - bar one or two sides, there’s a whole lot of crap in this division and at the minute we’re being bogged down in it all. Queens Park Rangers are not a good side. Nor are we, mind, but we have to be more confident when stepping on to the pitch.
With the quality we have in attack we should not be fearing a team that, like ourselves, are struggling. Ian Holloway sides always tend to come flying straight out of the blocks, working hard, but if we can contain them after the initial onslaught I fancy us to win. Big if.
I daren’t think what it could be like in the Stadium tomorrow if we fail to win yet again. Crowds are dwindling, and will continue to do so if there are no signs of improvement - and the opportunity to satisfy the supporters has to be the ultimate motivation going in to the game for Grayson.