When it comes to supporting Sunderland, the last week or so has been one filled mostly with confusion, uncertainty and angst.
Last Tuesday we fell victim to a snatch-and-grab home defeat at the hands of Nottingham Forest, a game played out in front of one of the lowest league crowds that the Stadium of Light has seen in recent history, before having three points stolen away from us on Saturday due to a late Hull City equaliser - and both goals in both games came from unheralded players formerly employed by this football club. As typically Sunderland as it gets.
Then, at the start of the week, Sunderland CEO Martin Bain spoke ‘candidly’ to the local press in an attempt to try and spread some much-needed positivity, amid rumours of potential fan protests and, whisper it quietly, *administration*.
And if you weren’t already fully acclimatised with the rigours of playing regular Championship football then you soon will be. Between now and the 30th of September we have FOUR games - so, if anything, we can have no excuses for not having enough of an opportunity to turn around our fortunes before the next international break at the start of October.
In all honesty, tonight’s game feels like a bit of an inconvenience. With players out injured and our one fit striker just another yellow card away from a domestic ban, you could be forgiven for not quite feeling all that comes with the ‘magic of the cup’ ahead of our game at Goodison - and the fact that only around 500 Sunderland fans are expected to make the trip across to Merseyside is evidence enough of just how down in the dumps most of us are at the minute.
It should offer some solace, then, that the majority of Everton supporters appear to be feeling exactly the same about the prospect of playing out yet another ‘pointless’ game, and the Toffees are in the middle of a ban run of results themselves having lost their last four games without even mustering up a single goal.
But that shouldn’t cloud our judgement - Everton are a very good side and have an embarrassment of riches in attacking positions. We have to be wary of their threat.
Regardless, we just need a win and it doesn’t really matter how or where it comes. Turning over a top Premier League side - one that we traditionally struggle against - will do wonders for a playing squad and fanbase that are desperately in need of an emotional boost.
For the first time this season, we can probably unanimously agree that Sunderland are the underdogs - and that is key. Nobody is expecting us to even score, never mind win. Imagine if we can do just that tonight at Goodison Park? One can dream.
It feels like all I’ve done recently is moan about Sunderland, and to be honest with you, I’m sickening myself with all the negativity. The awful results on the pitch, accompanied with some shocking PR off it, have completely and utterly destroyed all of my optimism for the season ahead, and a win against a very good side tonight would go some way to repairing some of the faith that I have lost over recent weeks and months.
All we ask is that the players turn up and try. That they keep their heads, work hard and leave everything that they have out on the pitch. Effort has not been an issue for me so far this season. It’s positive energy and confidence that we are failing to show most in games, and a win - whether that be inside the ninety minutes or on penalties, it doesn’t matter - would give all of us something to cling on to ahead of what is now an absolutely massive game at the weekend against Cardiff.
Haway the lads.