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Saturday’s Brentford clash will be a make or break moment in Sunderland’s season; and here’s why

Whether it’s just about believing in survival or fearing the worst, the result of Saturday’s game will certainly let us know just how much mental strength this squad has and whether or not we’re just going round in circles.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

It’s my favourite time of the month; that time that usually comes around once every four weeks - Sunderland have just done something positive for the first time in a while and we’re wondering if we’ve finally turned a corner.

What usually follows is the team reverting to type, plodding along for a few games, before reigniting the hope.

The problem is, unfortunately, that we’re running out of time and can’t afford to keep repeating our usual cycle. We’re on the home straight of Winter now and we’ll be in the warmer embrace of Spring soon. Then, before you know it, it will be the Summer and the World Cup will be in full swing.

So now it’s time for Sunderland to decide whether we’ll be watch big Vlad Putin’s state orchestrated sports display as a Championship club or a League One club. Will our Summer transfer window be one where we target the lesser players in the mid-level international squads - like players from Iceland and Denmark - or will we be hoping that some tricky Panamanian winger fancies upping sticks and living in a far colder climate and swapping the famous coffee of his homeland for that of Louis Cafe on Park Lane?

Panama or Park Lane?
SunderlandBID

We’ll certainly have at least a decent idea of which avenue we’ll be going down come five o’clock on Saturday. The game against Brentford will either have us wanting the season to end now or it will have us actually looking forward to next weekend’s game for the second week running. Imagine that, actually looking forward to games on a regular basis? Madness.

I am looking forward to this match though.

In fact, I would say I’m even quite excited for it.

Granted, I have the kind of anticipation you get when a dramatic TV show leaves you on edge at the end of a particularly enthralling episode - you know what I mean, the sort that has you desperate to find out what happen’s in next week’s episode just so you can find out if one of the characters has died. I cannot wait to discover whether or not Sunderland will use last week’s comeback at Ashton Gate as a catalyst for improvement.

2018 EFL Championship Football Bristol City v Sunderland Feb 10th
Can the lads build on their positive showing?
Photo by Nathan Munkley/Action Plus via Getty Images

It will all depend on how the players view the result at Bristol. If they haven’t learned from it and don’t have the realisation that if they just settle into games, they do have enough to beat teams, then they’re knackered. However, if their belief has been reignited and if the players are now aware that they can win games even when things don’t initially go their way, we might just get some joy out of them.

There’s only so much that Chris Coleman can say to the players - they have to be accountable for their own commitment and output when they’re put on the pitch. Our manager can’t just constantly positively reinforce them or rant and rave in order to try and conjure up some fight from his players.

Sometimes it can be as simple as recognising the hard evidence, such as understanding what an achievement it is to get a result in the fashion that we did last weekend against a side much higher in the league than us.

If the lads are capable of coming back from 3-0 down against Bristol City then they’re capable of beating Brentford at home - it’s as simple as that. And, if their attitude is right, that’s all Chris Coleman needs to say to his players before they enter the pitch on Saturday.

One way or another Saturday’s game with be a turning point for Sunderland. Whether it’s just about believing in survival or fearing the worst, it will certainly let us know just how much mental strength this squad has and whether or not we’re just going round in circles.