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OPINION: 12 games - what can we take from Sunderland’s start, & how likely does promotion look?

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Sunderland have now played 12 league games, and it’s a good chance to judge where we are at. Do we look primed for promotion come the end of the season?

Sunderland AFC

With exactly one quarter of Sunderland’s league games completed this season, things are starting to truly take shape. It hasn’t always gone to plan, but it’s so far pretty much so good for the Jack Ross regime on Wearside.

The opening three matches saw us come out victorious on two occasions; scoring six goals in the process. This sort of electric start to a campaign is one which Sunderland fans aren’t accustomed to and it had spirits flying. The mood was further advanced by back to back wins on the road at Gillingham and Wimbledon which set up a home match against winless Oxford Utd very well.

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In true Sunderland fashion, however, we could only grind out a point. This was the catalyst for a run of matches which saw just one win in five and had some fans questioning the competitiveness of their squad - a feeling of concern as to whether a promotion push would be out of our reach at the first attempt.

The hard-fought win at Bradford arguably settle some of these worries, showing that our squad was made of stern enough stuff to see out a match with ten men.

Winning ugly is a key trait for any promotion winning side, therefore this needs to be repeated on a more regular basis if we want to have a chance of going up come the end of the season.

Sunderland AFC

For most of the opening weeks, some fans had the mentality that we should smash every side in the division as we were too good to be there. Unfortunately, we’ve always deserved to be where we are and furthermore we are being given harsh lessons in how to play at League One level.

Oxford and Fleetwood came to the SoL last month on the back of very different runs of form. the optimists around would have said that both should have been comfortable victories for the home side; yet this wasn’t the case. We became frustrated with the way both sides set up. the free-flowing football which had seen us put nine goals past Scunthorpe, Wimbledon and Gillingham was not given the chance to be rolled out.

The winning feeling has been flowing through this squad for most of the campaign so far, and six wins and just one defeat looks impressive on paper.

Some performances have been the encapsulation of all the hopes and dreams of Mackems everywhere, others have been a sickening reminder of the last two seasons. We are still very much a work in process, but Jack Ross is getting the best out of players new and old (Chris Maguire and Lee Cattermole, to name just two).

More of the Rochdale and Scunthorpe wins accompanied by the odd Bradford-esque ‘dig in with tin hats on’ kind of result and we’ll be laughing with glasses of promotion champagne raised high in May.