Remember when relegation was finally confirmed? Or even before that, when David Moyes’ reign was so bleak that there didn’t seem to be any way out of our usual battle against relegation? You probably remember it well because you’re feeling the same now, what with us being currently bottom of yet another division and everything.
When all signs pointed towards the Championship, there were also signs pointing towards fun looking away trips. “Ooohh, look at Brentford with their terracing and a pub on every corner. There’s Burton, we’ve never been to Burton, I hear they’ve got terracing as well. What’s that over there? It’s Sheffield Wednesday! A #ProperFootballGround and a proud old club.” It’s clutching at straws but you’ve got to squeeze any positives you can out of relegation.
The thing is, it’s been hard to get excited about these away trips now that they’re upon us. Even though we’ve been marginally better on the road, which isn’t exactly difficult given our home record, it’s not easy to muster up the enthusiasm to watch a team that loses almost every week in a terrible division.
Sure, you look forward to the day out, and having a laugh with friends and family, but one of the main reasons you were excited to go to these places in the first place is because you thought you would be witnessing a few more victories.
You didn’t envisage throwing away a two goal lead or conceding five goals when you bought your tickets for Brentford and/or Ipswich.
So, thank the lord there’s a reason to look forward to games again.
Yes, yes, yes, I know Sunderland sack managers with quicker speed than your dad turning off the ten minute babestation preview when he hears your mam’s keys jangling in the door, but allow yourself to get carried away.
There’s no point in being sour, we’ve had nothing to shout about this season so let’s believe while we can - it might not last for very long.
Chris Coleman has arrived and has sounded bullish, confident and has the swagger of a man who just led a small nation to the semi finals of a major international tournament.
I know it’s easy to say the right things when you’ve just walked through the door but with Coleman, you can see how much he believes in himself. It’s immediately apparent why players such as Gareth Bale were desperate for him to stay in charge of Wales, as the man clearly has a huge amount of self belief.
Even against Aston Villa on Tuesday night you could see the nucleus of Coleman’s ideas coming through.
The players were far more composed, there were barely any aimless hoofs to nowhere and for the first time in god knows how long, there was something resembling a game plan. It wasn’t perfect, far from it, there was a lack of guile in midfield which will hopefully be solved by the likes of Paddy McNair and (when he returns from injury) Didier Ndong.
That grace period won’t last forever for Chris Coleman, given the urgent requirement for Sunderland to rack up some wins, but he will know that. He will also be aware of how great an opportunity Saturday is to get some momentum behind him and his team. Away from home, to a side just three points ahead of us means a victory will take The Lads off the bottom. That might not sound like much but it would be one hell of a psychological boost to take into the following game against Reading.
So maybe the feeling you have regarding Sunderland at the moment is a familiar one. Maybe it’s the familiarity of being vaguely optimistic about a new manager, even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t get carried away after O’Neill/Di Canio/Poyet/whoever it is broke your heart and failed on Wearside.
It could just be the pang of anxiety that comes with the territory, the weight of endless relegation battles bringing you a mundane sense of dread.
Whatever it is though, you should be feeling a little bit of uncertainty right now and at least that makes Saturday’s game at Burton interesting.