After managing a remarkable run of 364 days without a Sunderland victory on home soil, Saturday’s win over Fulham felt like a truly cathartic moment for the club. Since Chris Coleman has taken over as manager it has been clear to see the upturn in fortunes - even with daft dismissals, and an injury list the length of the River Wear.
It never ceases to amaze me the impact one or two people can have on an organization; Chris Coleman and Kit Symons have brought this tangible sense of confidence to a club desperately in need of someone to believe in. It’s been mentioned several times already, but Coleman really does seem to have that Sam Allardyce-esque ability to solidify a team and get them working together as one unit - it’s genuinely a joy to behold after such a fractious couple of years.
Furthermore, the manner in which Coleman has put full faith in the club’s younger players has also been incredibly satisfying. By and large the fans have been calling for the likes of Gooch, Asoro and Maja to be given more game time, and due to injuries and suspensions Coleman has turned to his young charges asking them to step up to the challenge and pull this club back in the right direction.
Many would agree that the aforementioned trio along with fellow youngsters George Honeyman, Donald Love and Tyias Browning have been nothing short of fantastic in the last couple of games - showing fans their determination to fight for success under the new gaffer’s supervision.
Good win!!! Glad to see my bro scoring the winner❤️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/XCTBat6mdi— Joelasoro (@joelasoro1) December 16, 2017
That being said, Coleman isn’t one to dwell on a single impressive performance, and after this weekend’s victory he was quoted in the Express as saying:
From my point of view it is only three points. It’s a small win for us, a small game, and it is a positive day but I’m not getting carried away with it. It’s a great three points but I know what’s ahead.
The next game is at home against Birmingham. What we can’t do is think that everything is alright now because we have won at home. Next week is even bigger than this week because it’s a team in and around us, and we have to build on what we have already done. We have to get the job done next week, and I don’t care how we do it.
We have a gameplan and we will stick to that - whether it is pretty or not is another thing. We have to go into next week with the same appetite and a little bit of fear - a little bit of fear is good for you - and we need to perform again.
I know everyone is thinking ‘great, we’ve won a game at home’, but we have to make sure we build on that. There will be tough preparation this week for a hard game next week.
It’s interesting to note how focused Coleman is in the long-term approach to the job, how the small victories don’t seem to represent a sense of a job well done. Rather, on the contrary, it’s clear to see just how determined Coleman is to find lasting success at a club many label an impossible job.
Coleman could have basked in this weekend’s victory, but instead he chose to look ahead with a steely sense of determination - an admirable trait in itself, and one that does so much to kindle belief within all those associated with this wounded football club.
I’m sure in the changing room and behind closed doors Coleman was ecstatic with the way in which his men found a fantastic result, but alongside that fleeting euphoria it’s clear to see that Coleman has far bigger plans for this club.
Speaking to the BBC Coleman admitted that the club, “have still got huge challenges ahead,” and one that immediately springs to mind is how Coleman can add quality to a relatively thin squad with little to no money available going into January.
The likes of Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong could fetch decent sums,, while players like Jack Rodwell and Billy Jones could well be ushered out of the club in order to free wages and funds - if anyone would take them, of course.
Essentially, while both Coleman and the fans have every right to be excited at the prospect of this gutsy Sunderland squad developing over the coming months, it’s clear to see the gaffer still has one eye on the limitations that will hinder his ability to find quick success - especially with our current financial infirmity.
Ultimately, all we can do as fans is support Coleman’s plans for our club - which has been impressive in the handful of games he has presided over thus far. The team are working hard for one another, and look confident in their duties on the field. Coleman’s regeneration of the club likely won’t be a miracle transformation, but with time, patience, and support Chris can find the success both he and we so desperately crave.