This feeling of despondency is, in all honesty, dragging me down.
Our defeat yesterday to Cardiff City wasn’t even unexpected - and that is what I think hurt the most, as it does after each and every game we lose at the Stadium of Light. Whilst before kick-off a small part of me wanted to believe we might actually go out and win the game, once it started a familiar pattern emerged and I just knew it wasn’t going to be our day.
You can smell the fear in the air. Sunderland’s players quite clearly cannot cope with playing at the Stadium of Light - they crumble as soon as they walk out on to the pitch. Why? I have no idea.
Obviously the atmosphere around the place doesn’t help, but that cannot be the excuse for why this team hasn’t won a single game of league football at the Stadium of Light since December of last year.
Every time we signed a player over the summer they immediately spoke about the fantastic stadium we have, and the amazing supporters. Yet, none of the new players nor the ones that were already here before them seem to be able to cope with playing at the Stadium of Light, in front of a home crowd of Sunderland supporters that, in my opinion, have been far more patient than they are given credit for.
I do sympathise with Simon Grayson somewhat. Some of the issues he’s facing are beyond his control, like having many of his better attacking players missing through injury - finding out three of your players aren’t fit to play just hours before the game does more harm than good, damaging the preparations you’ve had leading up to the game, forcing you to re-think what it is you are going to do once 3 o’clock comes.
But he has to exude more self-confidence, even if he’s not feeling it. The players quite clearly need an infectious, determined manager showing them the ropes if their faltering form is to change sometime soon, and at the minute Simon Grayson isn’t giving off the impression that he’s a man that is confident in his abilities.
We go again on Tuesday, and Ipswich are yet another side challenging up near the top end of the table that have the ability to hurt us if we aren’t assured in our ability to win the game. I don’t envy the Sunderland manager one bit, but he’s in this position for a reason. He’s got to start showing the skills that brought him to the table in the first place - we were told that he was a fantastic man-motivator, but currently we are not seeing it.
What we need is a plucky, backs-to-the-wall win - and a clean sheet. We need the players to win a game having dug in deep, riding their luck along the way. The type of performance where the fans can see each and every one of them giving their level-best in order to ensure the opposition don’t score, whilst simultaneously taking our chances at the other end.
Fact is, whether we feel the players are at fault or not for our horrific run of form, Simon Grayson should be getting more from them.