When we were 3-0 down at half-time on Saturday I was ready to throw in the towel.
I had previously thought we could escape from the mess we’d got ourselves into, but at half-time, with that scoreline coming through, I thought, “well that’s it, we’re definitely down now. They’ll probably scored a couple more, making it another demoralising defeat for a team who just choose to accept it. A team who don’t have the bottle to fight and give it a go.”
I don’t know what Chris Coleman said to them at half-time but it worked.
It was interesting to hear the Bristol City manager, Lee Johnson, hold up his hands and take responsibly for the turn around. He said that if he had shored it up a bit, individual mistakes would have been cut out, there would have been no showboating and Sunderland wouldn’t have been able to come back in that fashion.
Indeed, they almost went 4-0 up early in the second half. Had that have gone in, we wouldn’t have drawn level.
But turnarounds such as Saturday’s are the benchmarks on which seasons can change. Everyone remembers them - like when the mags drew against Arsenal after being 4-0 down.
My nearest recollection of one involving Sunderland was in the promotion season in 1998-99 away to West Brom. Me, Neil, Chalkie and a few others from the ITHICS crew gathered in a pub in Clapham, South London to see us go down 2-0 by half time, getting some stick from the few Baggies that were also there.
But then we turned it around and Bally scored the winner. With so much ale being consumed, it’s fair to say we stuck it back to those friendly West Brom fans.
Bristol could have scored more, but our offensive play in the second half eased the pressure on our defence, as well as Coleman changing the system and shape of the team.
When you’re attacking the opposition, they get less opportunities to attack us, giving the defence more time to regroup. It sounds obvious but it’s true.
Coleman has been adamant that we will pull through - to increasingly more sceptical ears of late - but maybe this was the where his money was put down.
I’m not saying we’re safe now, but it’s the first of a number of small tentative steps that could see us on the road to recovery.
Or... we could do a typical Sunderland and fall flat on our arses again.
After the Birmingham and Ipswich results, we had exhausted all hope, but now, somehow, we have hope again. Oh boll**ks!
Sunderland’s XI that day at the Hawthorns: Sorensen, Makin, Gray, Ball, Melville, Butler, Summerbee, Rae, Quinn, Dichio, Johnston. Subs used: Craddock, Mullin, Bridges.