The potential for change at Sunderland is still there, despite form suggesting that Chris Coleman’s side are a dead cert for relegation to League One this season.
Whilst no wins in their last eight games is beyond dreadful, a victory this afternoon at Loftus Road could potentially send Sunderland within one point of the team outside of the drop zone - and quite how the Black Cats aren’t completely cut adrift at this stage is frankly amazing.
Which is why, despite playing so poorly in midweek against Aston Villa, the Sunderland manager has been keen to forget about what has gone on in the past, instead insisting that there is still time for Sunderland to get themselves safe.
In his meeting with the press this week, Coleman said;
I think every day ordinary people do extraordinary things, every day, not just in football. When you’re right in the middle of it sometimes you can’t see a way out. You get dragged down every day by disappointment and negativity and if you let it keep you there then that’s where you’re going to stay.
Me personally, I get disappointed after poor performances and that lasts for probably 24 hours. The other thing is, there is another game coming up, there’s always another game and another chance. That’s where my optimism stays, there’s another chance in front of us to go and put it right, but we haven’t won for 8 games, I think it is.
When you’re on a run like that, in our position, that can have a lasting effect If you let it, or you change it. Like you rightly say, it can be changed, it can be changed. No matter about injuries or suspensions, this that or the other, especially in our league, anybody can beat anybody on any given day. So, it can be changed and a positive result can send shockwaves, in a good way.
But, we haven’t had one for a while and that’s what we need to do. No matter what else is going on, we need to get that positive result and a positive result is 3 points. As much as we try to say just try and keep concentrated on the performance, it’s obvious, people are talking about win after win. Until we do it, until we get it, that’s when I think our fortunes will change.
And, in fairness to Coleman, he’s right. I felt lower than a rattlesnake’s belly on Wednesday morning in the aftermath of the Villa performance but all it usually takes is a few days rest from the football to reinvigorate the hope within me.
And it’s always there, hope. As a Sunderland fan it is often all that we’ve got - to imagine that somehow, someway the team will pull through. We’ve done it in the past, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we’ll do it again - provided of course a number of the players step up and prove they want this more than anything else.
It’s going to take stumbling across something resembling a plan for us to gain three points today, of that I’m sure. With so many injuries at the back we’re relying on a mish-mash of defenders to pull us through, with Tyias Browning, Marc Wilson, John O’Shea and Jake Clarke-Salter all likely to be missing today.
With Lamine Kone our only fit centre half, Coleman may call upon forgotten man Brendan Galloway to step into the defence, with Billy Jones potentially thrown into the mix too. Whether we go with a back five or a back four is anyone’s guess, though with three points needed it would be fair to assume that the Sunderland manager might be forced into thinking more positively on this occasion.
Whatever the case may be, I just hope we see our team fight today. If the reality of our situation hasn’t hit this group of players yet then it should have, and only they can do anything about it.
I get that confidence is low, and that many of them probably can’t wait to get as far away from here as possible, but they have a duty of care for as long as they wear that shirt.
Queens Park Rangers are not a good side, and there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t beat them today if the players go out there and show some fight. Do the basics right, stay organised, work hard for each other, don’t be scared to take risks and get into them from the off.
If we do, I have no doubt whatsoever that we’ll all have hope within us once again - until the next game, at least.