It’s been a good week or so to be a Sunderland supporter.
I’m not usually over the top when it comes to my affection for club figures but, for some reason, I just can’t stop talking about certain players, the owner the manager - I’m just totally and utterly in love with Sunderland again and I’m enjoying the fact that for the first time in ages that love is reciprocal.
I’m sure most people reading this know what I mean - we’re back to adoring players for what they do on the pitch and, in the case of Chris Maguire, some of them are even receiving their fare share of hero worship.
It may seem premature, but who’s going to tell us we’re being daft? We’ve spent so long feeling sorry for ourselves that I think we’ve earned the right to get carried away with the way things are going.
Saturday’s performance saw all of that good feeling culminate into what was a dominant performance over ninety minutes, one filled with some lovely football and even better goals.
Jack Ross: "The players trained brilliantly this morning and it was one of those sessions as a manager when you think; 'I’ve got a right good squad here'. They were just really at it and I think that’s just reflected from how they feel at the moment."— Roker Report (@RokerReport) November 1, 2018
Love that. pic.twitter.com/Be55zAYzDl
I’ve often thought that you make your own luck when it comes to football, but a lot of what happens comes down to having supreme confidence in your ability.
It’s why Chris Maguire felt the need to thump one into the top corner from 35 yards against Southend, for example, or why Jack Ross elected to make two attacking substitutions early in the second half when we were already ahead in the game.
It’s a symbol of the fact that this group and this club have an attitude which I feel will ultimately separate us from the rest when it comes down to the business end of the season - the belief that appears to be breathing life right through everyone associated with Sunderland these days means we can only improve as the weeks and months go by.
After Saturday came Stewart’s appearance on our Podcast (which you absolutely must listen to if you haven’t already) plus his various other visits to supporter functions, fan groups and local radio. Intertwined has been the continuation of the seat changes at the Stadium of Light, the final phase which will have seen the majority of the faded, old pink seats replaced with shiny new ones.
This isn’t just happening for the sake of it. It’s happening because we’re all on the same page and working towards a common goal for the first time in over a decade.
The importance now that we’ve found a happy place is to keep this momentum going. Keep working hard, keep looking to improve, stay humble, remember the task at hand and, of course, don’t allow complacency to creep in. If things continue as they are we will be promoted - and its up to every single one of us involved with Sunderland to ensure that our recently-set standards simply do not slip.
And if results falter we can’t allow negativity to creep in either. We suffered a minor blip back in September but calmness prevailed, we rode through it and were able to actually learn and improve - and that is key. When we do struggle we have to think “okay, that was bad... but how do we improve things?” not only as a fanbase, but the club as a whole.
Talk is cheap of course, but I don’t get the impression that the man currently at the helm, Jack Ross, would allow standards within his own realm to slip. He’s got the benefit of a strong and competitive squad at his disposal - every man knows their position is up for grabs if they even deliver one lukewarm performance, and that is vitally important when you are trying to build towards promotion.
It’s a team game, but individually each player has to know that they only have themselves to count on when it comes to their own performances.
This is why we must go to Plymouth this Saturday reinvigorated. We won last time out but that must leave our head-space as we go in search of another three points, with another opportunity to place pressure on the teams above us.
Ultimately the goal must be to get into first position and stay there - and until we do that, we’ve achieved very little in reality.