Finally... a home win!
Yesterday whilst at the game I experienced a range of emotions that I had in all honesty forgotten all about.
Jubilation - watching a young kid score his first goal for the club, the winning one, was immense.
Intensity - finally I watched a performance and felt that I could relate to the team on the pitch. They worked hard for each other and there was most definitely a team spirit; a togetherness.
Anticipation - knowing that the clock was running down and willing the referee on to blow the final whistle.
Happiness - the fans singing in unison again. The sigh of relief when the final whistle blew and the Stadium erupted.
God, does it feel good to be a Sunderland fan again. What a difference a win makes.
Coleman does it again
Whenever a manager makes substitutions in a game they are taking a gamble. The difference between a good manager and a bad manager, however, is knowing when the right time is to make changes, whilst also instilling faith in the players that you are bringing on in order for them to really make a difference to the end result of the game.
Our situation dictates that we have to make the most of what we’ve got - and that includes making young players an integral part of the squad. Coleman’s faith in those youngsters when making changes was the difference between a draw and a win yesterday, and he deserves much of the credit for the victory.
Darron Gibson’s transformation since Coleman arrived has been nothing short of extraordinary either. Here’s a player that most of us would have been happy to see the back of weeks ago, yet now he’s arguably our most important midfielder.
Quite clearly the key to getting the best out of Gibson is to surround him with energetic players that help him to cover space, which in turn allows him to dictate the play from a position on the pitch that suits him.
Gibson is limited and in the games where we need to press the opposition more he might struggle, but in situations where he can be afforded the time and space to get his foot on the ball he can be a real huge asset.
The early signs so far in the Coleman era have been hugely positive. He’s got what he’s got and he’s shown a willingness to not only work with them, but develop them and find a way of playing that suits our strengths and disguises our weaknesses.
Another clean sheet
That’s now three clean sheets in four games - impressive!
Our current attitude and way of playing very much reminds me of the way we operated when Sam Allardyce was our manager, and he started off by talking of the importance of achieving clean sheets. Chris Coleman sings from the same hymn sheet as the big fella from this perspective, and perhaps his greatest achievement so far in his relatively short stint as Sunderland manager has been his ability to transform this team from being a defensive nightmare to a side that now can’t be broken down by decent attacking sides like Fulham and Wolves.
The greatest example of the confidence that Sunderland’s back line now has is perhaps the upturn in form from Robbin Ruiter. I can recall at least three or four occasions during the game where he confidently stepped out of his box whilst in possession, kicking and distributing the ball in a manner that had previously evaded him earlier in the season.
John O’Shea deserves immense credit too. He’s talking our back line through games - Marc Wilson and Tyias Browning look comfortable alongside him and that yesterday was probably the best game that all of that trio have had so far this season - particularly Browning, who was tremendous.
Next week we face bottom-side Birmingham, who are the lowest scorers in the division and are on the back of a three game losing streak. The target has to be another win and clean sheet - three points that would help us to close the gap on the sides that are directly above us in the table.